A Good Day
I am in that stage of life when things are finally becoming more comfortable. Some mornings, i wake up breathing easier, thinking, “yes, today is a good day.”
My uncle said it best. You pass by three stages in life.
The first stage is childhood. You have little worries. You go to school, run around during recess. You get allowance. Your needs are met. Every day is a chance to play. This stage goes on up to college. You’re happy, safe, and secure. Conquering the world is the next step. If you’re like me, however, who went further in education through medicine, internship, residency, fellowship, and subspecialty training… you have an umbilical cord attached to your parents. A very, very prolonged childhood. Your friends have started putting up a second Company, pulling in accolades and six digits a month.
The second stage is when you start getting around in the world, laying down roots, and building a family. You get into debt upon debt upon debt upon ultimate debt, just to get by. You worry about the can of milk and dry diapers running out before your next pay arrives. You are thankful for your observant parents who noted your worry… and slipped a can of milk in the cupboard, a bag of diapers in the cabinet. You are afraid to wake up some mornings… because you do not know if there will be food on the table. You window shop at the mall, and when friends call you over for lunch, you Wave, saying you’re not hungry. But in fact you were VERY hungry, but the wallet was just so thin today.
The third stage is when all your efforts over the past few years begin to grow fruit. Because of the excellent care you showed a patient, the referrals come in. That patient was a relative who wanted to compensate you for your service, but being who you are and following the hippocratic oath, you refuse with a smile… stomach grumbling in protest. You thought that was the end of it, but then you realize that they paid you with glowing words to other people who need your service. It multiplies seventy times seven-fold. An avalanche of goodness you reap.
It used to be that when I tithed in church, it hurt. When you have a lot, giving a lot doesn’t hurt as much, as when you just have a little. I was a doctor, a hungry one, because believe it or not, I was earning below the poverty line. You don’t see it because we have mastered the art of concealing our poverty. That expensive watch? It’s Dad’s. Those nice shoes? Try 168. Those nice clothes? Got that on sale, or more often the case, are hand-me-downs. We eat mostly fish at home because it is cheaper. I have forgotten the taste of steaks and pot roasts, meals we took for granted in the first stage. But I continued to give even in poverty, despite my poverty. Not because I liked to hurt, but because I was consistent with who I was.
The universe, I have recently learned, is generous. That which you give, which hurts, but you give because you want to share… It comes back… In so many wonderful ways, much more than what you had lost in the giving.
Now I give, I share. It still hurts, by the way. We haven’t completely gotten out of our poverty yet. But the things that come back are a soothing salve.
I think the universe is just making sure we can give more the next time.
Yes, today is a good day.