Being a goal oriented individual, my days are filled with appointments, deadlines, and to do lists. Unfortunately the path, or time spent between point A and point B tends to go un-noticed as I focus on the goal or end result. I find this type of orientation not uncommon in most western societies, where success or achievement is measured by results and not by how you “played the game.” In parenthood, we teach our children it’s not whether you win or lose, but how you played the game, while emulating a much different set of values.
As healthcare providers we are trained to focus on results. Our main goal, and as it should be is patient outcome, or improved health and longevity. We spend countless hours in the trenches of literal blood sweat and tears, with an end goal of good oxygenation, blood pressure control and pain relief. It’s an honorable profession that provides an enormous sense of accomplishment entwined with echoing emotions and pain that often last forever. Some call it a job or career……..the ones that “get it” prefer the term calling.
Every few months, I’m fortunate enough to have an encounter that gives a glimpse of the bigger picture, understanding that this life is much larger than I realize. I recently treated an individual in a busy emergency department for a minor undisclosed complaint. We had our routine interaction, where I focused on the problem at hand, looking for a solution in the realm of science. Near the end of our interaction, he informed me that I took care of a similar complaint sometime back. The patient stated that something I had said had changed the trajectory of his life. The gentleman thanked me for those words, tearfully expressing the impact. Unfortunately I don’t remember that interaction…….I am sure my focus was on the disease process at hand. What made the difference in his life was not my prescription, but words along the path. Ironically, I’m the doctor, but after the second interaction I was the one treated and transformed.
I don’t believe in chance. I feel that we tend to focus on the finish line or goal, while often neglecting the path or journey. I’m not trying to minimize the value of accomplishment or end results, only to increase the awareness of the power of the journey. Hesse understood this all too well in The Journey To The East, where the league focused on the final destination, later learning that the journey had a priceless reward. Seemingly minuscule moments for you may be life changing events for others, creating lasting impressions that can literally change the world. Whether at the dinner table doing homework with your children, or in the line at Wal-Mart, the path makes a difference. In healthcare, your kind word at bedside or warm blanket in the night may have more healing power than you could ever realize.