It Really is a Wonderful Life

Having been in practice over 20 years I have a group of patients who are approaching the end of their lives. They share the angst associated with aging, losing friends and loved ones and understanding the inevitable end that awaits them. It is a sad and difficult time of life.

Last week when talking to one of these aging people, I mentioned that as physicians, throughout our lives we are repeatedly confronted with death. It struck me just how skewed a doctor’s perspective is. We are never permitted to hide from the truth; any one of us can die at any time. Although our understanding of life’s vulnerability is more accurate than the average person’s, their ignorance in this circumstance clearly offers greater bliss. Most people travel through life ignoring the truth about their own mortality. Although they occasionally experience a brush or two with death, it does not stare them squarely in the face day after day. One might surmise therefore that a doctor’s greater grasp of life’s true blessing should impart some sort of wisdom that would be internalized. We should glide through life more easily, appreciating the splendor each day brings. Unfortunately it’s not the case. Instead, we often become damaged by our knowledge and fail to use what could be wisdom, instead allowing our understanding to taint and often harden us. Although I am cognizant of these issues, I too struggle daily to appreciate what I have. Although I intellectually recognize how I should see the world, I find it difficult to put my knowledge into action. So why am I writing this today? Just to share the truth. Maybe some of you reading this note will be able to succeed where so many of us have failed. Embrace each day; breathe a bit deeper and easier; and take nothing for granted.

BBC “It’s a Wonderful Life Video

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