The Art of Noticing Unnoticed Life Wisdom
Several years ago, fate intervened to inspire me to write the book I am about to share with you. With the editing assistance of Ohio Academy of Family Physicians Executive Vice President Ann Spicer, I submitted a book manuscript for publication later this year. Rather than wait for its fall release, I asked the OAFP staff to give our members something to fill up about 30 minutes of their quiet time.
It is my hope that a chapter or two will provide some element of hope or ignite an amber of inspiration during the moments of solitude of this unprecedented global crisis, COVID-19. If nothing else, it will give those who take the time to read each little chapter something to mentally reflect upon.
Until the COVID-19 crisis officially ends, the OAFP will publish one chapter each week in the Weekly Family Medicine Update and then archive that chapter on this webpage. The book has 10 chapters. It is my sincere hope that we, as a nation, emerge from this crisis long before we can publish the 10th and final chapter.
Stay well and carry on,
Gary LeRoy, MD, FAAFP
AAFP President | OAFP Past President
Preface, Introduction, and Contents
The fact that you are reading these words indicates that you too may be on a journey to improve your status of life wellbeing. Perhaps you are no longer content with just living life as usual. Maybe you too have several “I quote” messages whispering in your unconscious mind – begging to be recognized and acted upon. Something deep inside the darkest crevices of your human spirit challenges you to search for a more joyfully fulfilled life. Your answers may have always been present; but just outside of your emotional reach.
I hope that after reading this book, or even just a few of the chapters with themes that garner your attention, you will begin the process of creating your own life quotes to live by. Use them as your soul’s torchlight to see the way more clearly toward life’s most genuine treasures.
When you awake, each morning ask yourself, “What will I do today to improve the world for someone other than myself?” Because the day will surely come when you will awake no more.
As the only child in my household, I had the opportunity to indulge my mother in many uninterrupted, probing conversations. It was common for me to end my day sitting on my mother’s bedroom floor doing homework while also chattering with her about what I had done in school during the day.
During one very memorable conversation, I recall getting up off the floor and bouncing up her bed to ask her if, when she was my age, she was ever bothered by all the bad things that were happening in the world around her. I wanted to know what I could do to help others live a better life. That evening she instilled in my heart the value of an education and the importance of placing the needs of those we serve before our own personal desires. From that moment, I began to sense a certain degree of unexplainable urgency in my life.
“It is difficult to become the voice of reason in a crowded room when you can’t even remember why you are in the room.”
I often go to meetings with certain preconceived notions regarding likely accomplishments based on my review of the program or agenda. However, once I have comfortably situated myself in my chosen seat, I begin to scan the faces of those in attendance. I wonder how many people are there, only for acknowledgement in the meeting minutes. They aren’t mentally present. Yes, that’s right. I said it. On many occasions, I have even been one of those individuals who drag my baggage of distracting random thoughts into the meeting room with me. I acknowledge that this preexisting baggage of mental distractions blunt my ability to be fully present in the conversation.
“A seed of doubt once planted in a field of obvious truth will grow so rapidly that it obscures reality.”
But what happens to our view of the world when our expectations of social reality are disrupted by a seed of doubt. Uncertainty can sprout from many sources. Remember how our parents would amuse us with fairytales when we were children? We did not question whether the stories were tales of fact or fiction because as toddlers the only frame of reference available to us was the world as provided by our parent(s) or guardian(s).
It wasn’t until a summer afternoon when I was asked by a neighborhood friend to go to the swimming pool at a local park that the first seed of doubt was planted deeply into my young soul.
“When we only speak about how we feel an event happened – this is gossip; when we report on what we think was observed – this is news; when society writes about the residual evidence of the event – this is history. The truth is that only God will ever know the reality of what actually happened.”
“When I was God, I thought I knew everything.” These nine words erupted from the edge of nowhere and collided with any conscious thought I was having at the time. I recall pausing to ponder the meaning of these words that were suddenly reverberating within my soul. Unlike the random arrival of quotes I had experienced in the past, these nine words did not reveal themselves to me as having a meaningful purpose. Despite this fact, those meaningless words continued to bang around the inner most crevices of my mind for the remainder of the day as if to dare me to acknowledge their need to be examined in greater detail.
“Destiny and fate will always offer us opportunities to change the status quo.”
Fate will always lead us to new destinies. It is our nature to be curious. Children are curious about their environment. This is how they learn and discover the world around them. As we age, however, some of us tend to lose our natural curiosity about life. Imagination wanes along with our desire to seek new possibilities. We get “stuck in our ways” of doing things. We become entrenched in our social bias based on personal or virtual life experiences (TV, radio, internet, social, or print media). Many of us allow opportunities and blessings to pass us by because we do not wish them to interrupt our routine rhythm of life.
The winds of fate guide us to lands of uncertain opportunities. It is up to you to see past the accidental frustrations of daily life and allow faith to take you to a designated blessing.
“The ONLY genuine expert opinion of the future is one given by someone who has been to the future and returned to the present to reveal their personal experience of what tomorrow has in store.”
After a terrifying dream, Malcolm stared out his window at the little wooden cottage that in his dream was ablaze with a fire that quickly reduced the structure and its lone occupant to ashes. The next day Malcolm could not get the vivid dream to vanish from his mind. Toward the end of his workday, he decided to stop by the little cottage to check on the old lady.
If a prophet foretelling your future knocked on your door, would you let them in?
“You have to go past knowledge and truth in the dictionary before you arrive at WISDOM.”
How can anyone find wisdom without first achieving an awareness about the deficit of knowledge? How can anyone acquire knowledge without a willingness to educate themselves with facts? How can anyone achieve an education of enduring value without verifiable truth as its foundation?
Only after we have gone through the progressive steps on the “alphabetical path” can we arrive at the final destination where wisdom awaits. Dare to take the unconventional path through life. Misfits among us who walk on a path toward wisdom clearly see a future shrouded from the eyes of those trapped in the darkness of a social status quo.
“Promise nothing; but act as if you have.”
Without telling anyone the detailed reason why I don’t make promises, it has become a reassuring practice. It verifies whether my friends, family, co-workers, students, or patients are actively listening as I speak. If any of them attempt to rebuke me by saying, “You promised that you would…” I reply with complete certainty that they have misquoted me.
I faithfully practice the doctrine of never making promises to do something that is beyond my full control to do. Very few things in life are immune to fate’s intervention. Thus, very few things in life can be promised with certainty.
“We need to teach our youth to become men and women of great character and how not to simply grow up to be characters.”
Recognizing that these life transitions would eventually happen to my children, I decided to forewarn them of this inevitability in a somewhat novel way. I don’t know where I came up with the idea, but while my two daughters were still less than 10 years old, I decided to begin having character building conversations with each of them as they reached certain milestone ages.
At age 13, I took each of my daughters on their first official date. We both dressed up in nice outfits. I selected a fashionable restaurant for dinner. From the very beginning of the dinner date, I explained how a real gentleman, one who truly cared about them, should treat them on a date.
“Fate has its virtue.”
The virtue of fate will come disguised in many ways. It may arrive as a poolside bully or a soulmate you unexpectedly meet while on a walk in the park. It may arrive on your journey to find truth and wisdom during a contentious debate. A virtuous twist of fate could come to you while trapped in the darkness of an unanticipated life situation; or in a fictional story conjured up in a dream. It could also arrive with the death or loss of someone you loved dearly.
Fate has its virtue, prompting you to write your next life chapter when the time is correct to do so. Review your life chapters and learn from each. When adversity arrives, prayerfully wait in silence for fate and circumstance to grant you a special delivery message of salvation from the edge of nowhere.
“The only genuine method of avoiding the bruising pain of losing that which we love is to divorce ourselves of the desire to love all mortal and material things; therefore, permitting ourselves and loneliness to contemplate quietly a life of unfulfilled existence.”
As I continued to look out the window, the sea of stars embossed against the dark sky caught my attention. I pondered the space between the stars realizing that beyond my visual perception, trillions of suns and galaxies filled the gloomy black vacuum. Light years away, had the suns giving birth to the ancient lights I was witnessing been extinguished by time? Were there others out there in the space between stars looking in our direction pondering my existence? If they could not meet us, I wondered, how could they care about us?
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