My childhood hours spent lost in reading in the Burnaby Public Library, changed my life.
I would later discover the enduring value of perspective shifting and empathy – in my personal life, in my role as a father and in my vocation as a physician.
Today, having taken formal courses in cognitive therapy, I teach my patients to manage their worries, frustrations and sadness by trying on different perspectives. We can learn to transform how we feel by challenging our beliefs, questioning our assumptions and changing how we think.
Empathy has helped me see my patients’ health within the context of their whole lives and how they experience them. It has helped me understand how they cope with illness, injury, loss and chronic conditions.
My childhood home was filled with words. My parents had many magazine subscriptions, including The Reader’s Digest, National Geographic, Children’s Digest and just about every women’s magazine in the 70s and 80s. We all read the newspaper daily.
There were books in every room. In fact, we had a dictionary beside the kitchen table that we referred to regularly to settle disagreements about a words spelling, meaning or usage. When I think back, I can’t recall any vantage point in our home from which I would not see a book.
My life was so enriched by books – the shared perspective of many writers and, on a number of occasions, transformed by great books.
As a child, I hoped that one day I could do the same for others – that through words, I could bring inspiration, comfort, hope and a new perspective to someone else.