Hey friends! It’s been a while, huh? As you probably know by now, writing has always been a funny thing for me. I go through phases of feeling so inspired, so excited to form my words into some sort of meaning. And then I hit a wall. The words won’t mold into anything other than some jumbled thoughts and writing doesn’t bring me joy or relief. So I stop. When I first started blogging, I used to try to force it. I would write just because I felt like I needed to post something for whoever liked reading my blog.. and then I realized that if I couldn’t inspire myself, there was no way in hell I was inspiring anyone else. And ultimately, that is my goal for this blog. I hope to bring you all a place of joy, inspiration, and a touch of humor. A place of raw and sometimes heartbreaking emotion and reality. A place of love. So, when the blog goes silent, just know it is only temporary. I will always come back to writing when I feel I have something worthwhile to say.
Lately, I actually have been doing a lot of writing, just not here. I always wanted to write a book and one day not too long ago, I started putting my thoughts down. I thought this was something I would keep private until it was completed, but I feel like so much of what I’m writing is relevant to things we are experiencing now and would be more useful shared. So I decided to post one chapter a week here. Happy reading.
Chapter one: Walter
My patient Walter was an eighty-three-year-old man with a head bleed but still enough wisdom and wit to put most people to shame. He had recently undergone brain surgery and by some miracle was recovering well. I walked into his room like I did with all my patients every morning for a quick check in but ended up leaving forty-five minutes later. After working in an intensive care unit for so many years, I have found very few patients that have been able to carry on a conversation. Most are pumped full of drugs to keep them calm, sedated and from feeling pain. They are connected to ventilators that assist their breathing, have tubes protruding from every orifice and so many intravenous pumps running that their room becomes a tripping hazard for anyone who dares to enter. Most are frail and weak and, even the awake ones, are usually too exhausted to engage in more than a few sentences.
My awake and spunky patients are few and far between so, when I get the chance to converse with an eighty something year old, you can bet your life I am going to stick around and listen. Tales from a lifetime ago, perspective from a place I often have never been and advise from someone three times my age are all priceless gifts. It is amazing to think of the changes our elderly population have witnessed. Growing up in the early twentieth century was so different from our always connected and fast-paced today. Life was much simpler.
After the usual pleasantries and medical questions, my conversation with Walter lead where most do these days. We talked about politics, the generation of millennials and the world… all topics drowning in problems and lacking solutions. It is comical how frequent conversations such as this one are had, as if we are all under some false illusion that the more we talk about the disaster our world has become, we may have a chance at bringing light to and possibly fixing it.
I know many individuals who would prefer to stay completely ignorant to the worlds happenings. They live in a bubble and, some days, I envy them. Some days it would be refreshing to feel completely clueless towards problems of the world and just focus on my own personal issues. Some days, my own problems feel like a heavy enough burden and that I could not possibly add any more weight to my shoulders. And some days, it is okay to feel consumed and overwhelmed by ourselves. Some days. But living in a bubble is far from practical. Living in a bubble is dangerous. Collectively, this is our world and we must all play a part in understanding its downfalls and correcting its faults. We must not remain ignorant but, instead, become informed.
And so, from time to time, conversations such as Walter’s and mine are inciteful and necessary but they often end in one of two ways. They either end in an argument between two people with differing opinions, or they end in shared frustration between like minded people. Thank the Lord this old man and I shared similar views because, thanks to my grandmother, I learned at a young age that arguing with the elderly is like picking a fight with someone you know will knock you out cold every single time.
Walter told me tales of his past but the story that resonated with me the most was about his grandson. In a tone filled with disappointment and laced with disgust, he described a twenty-five-year-old man who spent his days jobless, sitting around his parent’s home and not contributing to society in the least bit. At eighty-three-years-old, this man still worked harder than a young adult and, rightfully so, it infuriated him. He questioned his grandson every time they visited, “What the hell are you doing sitting around? I started working at sixteen-years-old driving trucks, delivering papers and busting my ass to make a living. What the hell are you doing sitting around?” Good question and one I am sure we could all ask ourselves or someone we know closely.
Why has it become acceptable for a generation to become lazy and disrespectful yet expect the world to be handed to them. This entitled behavior is slowly suffocating our society. It would do us all some good to evaluate our situation and take some of Walter’s advice. To sit and talk to our elders. To listen to their war stories and their daily struggles. To hear the heartbreak they endured and the fight they gave to overcome and succeed.
At some point in our lives, we have probably all been trapped in a room with Grandpa Joe or Great Aunt Jean as they rambled on their endless stories that all began with, “in my day.” Sure, they probably exaggerated the part when they told you they “walked to school uphill both ways in three feet of snow,” but did you hear the other parts? Did you really listen to the parts when they talked about being respectful human beings, working hard, the importance of family dinners, their sense of loyalty, patriotism and faith? Or what about the parts when they described a world that did not give handouts but instead made you earn the promotion or the trophy? What about those parts? Because those are the important ones. Those are the parts that have gotten lost somewhere across the years. Those are the parts that make them strong and the values that are making us weak today because they are desperately lacking.
Imagine a world in which you worked from sunup until sundown on a farm that needed to produce, or your family did not have food on the table. Imagine being drafted to fight a foreign war at eighteen-years-old, watching your friends tortured or blown to pieces, all the while, not having the ability to even call home. Imagine a generation that respected authority and their elders or they suffered harsh consequences. Imagine a generation that could not afford to sit around and let someone else get ahead. Imagine a generation without the luxury of technology assistance. These tough times created a generation that knew the meaning of hard work.
Now, I want you to look at our world today through the eyes of my eight-three-year-old patient. I want you to really try to see what he sees. I want you to imagine how infuriating it must be to hear someone say, “it’s too hard” or “I’m too tired.” I want you to think of the anger he must feel when he still must work to pay bills, yet the perfectly capable thirty-year-old woman with fake nails, a fancy purse and an expensive cellphone is jobless and buys her groceries with food stamps funded from his tax dollars. I want you to feel the pain he feels watching monuments created for his friends killed in war vandalized and destroyed. The disappointment, disgrace and grief must be overwhelming.
As a society, we have lost our sense of right and wrong. We have forgotten the meaning of law and order and the importance of pride and self-worth. Instead of working hard to earn something, we would rather have it handed to us because we prefer the easy way out. We no longer take responsibility for our action and instead blame our mistakes on someone or something else. We bury ourselves in electronics and block out the world with headphones jammed into our ears, ultimately leading us to few, if any, meaningful relationships. We have become numb to suffering and violence. We are creating the most selfish, self-righteous and weak generation our world has ever known and if we do not start making some changes, we will singlehandedly ruin ourselves.