I don’t like going to the doctor.
It’s not that I don’t like my doctor; he’s great. It’s that it puts my impermanence on full display, stripping away the denial of immortality; even when it’s simply a routine checkup. Something about being in a medical office raises my blood pressure as well as fear level.
“How are you feeling?”
“You’re the doctor; wouldn’t it be up to you to tell me?”
He chuckled an inner warmth that blended well with his extensive knowledge. As I said, I like my doctor. In a time where the medical providers are overworked and under-appreciated, rushing here to there to accomplish everything required of them, he always appeared totally attentive during the short time we spent together once a year.
“Are you exercising?”
“Yes, I walk about 30 minutes at least five times a week – plus I take my dog out each day. That’s not really exercise because we have to stop and pee at every bush we pass.” I paused, then corrected, “Well, it’s not WE to have to stop and pee; it’s him. Just clarifying…”
He smiled again.
“Your blood tests all show that everything is as it’s supposed to be. You’re a healthy man.” He paused. “So, how’s your life?”
The question knocked me on my heels for a brief flash; not a query I expected from an MD, but, when you think about it, it makes perfect sense. One cannot heal the body while ignoring the mind and spirit. As I took a mental inventory of “how is my life,” I opened up about the waning days of my career, my aspiring spirituality, family drama, life goals, and the passing of years in general.
Says singer/songwriter John Mellencamp in The Real Life:
“But something happens
When you reach a certain age
Particularly to those ones that are young at heart
It’s a lonely proposition when you realize
That’s there’s less days in front of the horse
Than riding in the back of this cart”
I’ve heard tell that aging is a sad and scary place. I’ve taken that to be true because, well, I’ve never “aged” to this level and others have so I’ve accepted what they said. Yet, something about being of that “certain age,” coupled with recalling out loud that which was making up my day-to-day; helped me appreciate how fortunate am I. I summed it up to the doctor: “I’ve decided I like this time of my life. I plan to enjoy it.”
He smiled as he left the room.
I know I’m not speaking for me alone when I say that we have been through the wringer; times are difficult. We’re at odds with each other over the smallest differences. The oceans are boiling; the trees are on fire; the ground is parched in the west and flooded in the east. Prices are skyrocketing. Democracy is under attack from within. And, of course, there’s a deadly virus lurking in the dark spaces, grasping victims like a demon leaping from the hidden places in a horror movie. It lies in wait, eager to grab at any one of us without notice. We all see it. We all know it. It’s everywhere. We also each carry our own personal battle scars of loss, confusion, and disappointment.
Put all that together, and it would seem that now – this time and place, especially sitting in the small doctor’s office – would not cause one to feel fortunate. Yet, there it was, gratitude and appreciation filling me to overflow, despite it all.
As I sat across from my doctor receiving a good bill of health, I was overcome with gladness for the bounty I have. And since the ability to experience joy and gratitude cannot co-exist with anger and fear, the latter dissipated without effort.
I had a therapist tell me that having a positive attitude doesn’t make the bad things go away. He explained, “It’s as if you’re listening to a country radio station, it doesn’t mean the rock and roll station is off the air; you’re just not tuned in to it. You can dial it up any time you choose.”
At that moment – as in so many others that are available for the taking – I dialed up thankfulness, realizing yet again that life is the greatest gift. Yes, we face trials and tribulations. No, not everything is as we would want it. But, we’re still standing, continuing to love and hold dear those that matter.
Hope remains unbowed; the perfect prescription for that which ails us all.
About the author: Scott “Q” Marcus is a professional speaker, motivator, and the founder of the Facebook group: Intentions • Affirmations • Manifestations. He leads no-payment-required zoom inspirational, practical workshops on the first and third Tuesday of each month. Find out more via his mailing list at www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com/signup