From time to time, we should all question what we are doing with our time and with our lives. This is especially true when we simply fall into routine living and find ourselves doing what we do simply just because we’ve being doing it day after day, year after year.
In my own method of meditation (7 questions, 7 mantras), I ask myself each day, “What am I doing?”
That question is designed to address my current course of action and routines into which I have fallen. Are my actions aligned with my greatest values? Alternatively, have I somehow lost my way and fallen off the path? Have I responded to circumstances reactively rather than mindfully?
Next month will mark the 20th anniversary of my newspaper column. My first column in the Burnaby Now and the Royal City Record appeared in September 1991. Over time, I moved from writing twice a month to every week, and my column has been carried by other papers in the Now network.
At first, I was paid $20 for each article, but after a few years, I chose to make my writing part of my volunteer work for my community. It’s been a forum through which I could contribute to the health and wellbeing of more people than I could personally meet in my medical practice.
Writing a regular column can be challenging. However, I can never run out topics on which to write as I am ever learning from my patients and my children. I can keep writing as long as I keep learning.
Finding time to write is difficult. I’m as busy as most family physicians with practices that can consume as much of our lives as we allow. I have tried not to steal precious time from my family.
I regret that I’ve been unable to personally answer letters from my readers, but I do appreciate their words of support and encouragement. Without their feedback, writing is a solitary activity. I write with the intent that what I share will make a positive difference.
I’ve appreciated cards from long-time readers who took the time to say thank you and those who’ve told me that I gave them the words they needed to get through the hardest times in their lives. I’ve kept the letter from a mother who wrote that an article on hope helped her understand her son and find peace when he died from cancer.
One young man wrote how my series on finding our calling gave him the courage to leave his job, go back to school and do what he was really meant to do. He became an inspiration to those around him who noticed how much happier he had become
When I’ve given public education talks for nonprofit groups, I’ve been moved by faithful readers who tell me that they’ve saved every column I wrote and sent their favourites to loved ones.
This summer, I came to question my own writing routine but not because I was about to start my third decade. One of the papers published three very negative letters to the editor. They read as personal attacks from people I had never met. They conveyed a meanness of spirit that negated the spirit of my own writing.
It made me question why I wrote for the paper. With reflection over the past month, I realized that I don’t write for any newspaper. I write for my readers.
I write to share practical perspectives that can help others negotiate challenges to their wellbeing, improve their relationships, negotiate the health care system and inspire them to achieve their positive potential for health and happiness.