Soon after their births, my first thoughts on holding each of my children: “Thank you for this precious life.”
It remains at the core of my thoughts, grounding and shaping my actions, as a father, a husband, a friend and a physician. In the living of life and in the practice of medicine, I have witnessed and experienced the fragility of health and life, the fleeting nature of its blessings, pain and suffering. Knowing that we are mortal, each of our lives is all the more precious.
In caring for patients, I share the joys and tragedies of every patient’s life. I am privileged to participate in the births of newborns, to be the first to hold them and give thanks. I share in my patients’ lessons in life and witness their growth through challenge and adversity.
I marvel at the capacity of the body to heal itself, and I am inspired by the resilience of the human spirit.
Each life is a precious gift, and I remember this with my encounter with every patient. To be engaged in the care of their health is a privilege and responsibility.
But we each share a responsibility for one another as if we were one great family. It is a duty easily forgotten.
Most of us approach each day as if we will live forever. It is preferable to living in fear. I have counselled patients who were so consumed with the anxiety of losing loved ones that they failed to appreciate the time they had together. When their loved ones were gone, they realized how much more they had lost.
Some dads don’t take the time to enjoy family time when their children are young. They soon discover that toddlers too quickly become teens and adults, and that time has been lost forever.
We each have a capacity to harm one another. Fortunately, most of our daily sins are of omission and neglect. We take the people in our lives for granted – not only family and friends but also the people we meet each day. We do not seize every opportunity to be helpful and to give what is most needed. We fail to connect.
Your life is a rare and unique gift . . . but not one to keep for yourself. Don’t waste your life, talents and time on the trivial. Don’t get lost on the wrong paths – the fast lane of materialism, the slow, meandering road of mindlessness, or the lonely highway of narcissism and self-interest.
We are meant to travel together. We are dependent on others and they upon us. We are carried and we carry others. We can inspire and be inspired. We are better together, and together we can travel deeper and farther, discovering places in the world and in ourselves that would otherwise remain unknown.
Before you rise in the morning, consider a prayer of appreciation: “Thank you for this precious life.”