Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Question on Patience

          I recently went home to my home city, Butuan City.  In fact, I am still in Butuan as I start to write this entry.

          The problem that hounds me here each time I go home is the never ending problem of water shortage.  This is a striking irony for Mindanao, which some label as the Land of Promise. I sincerely hope it would not just be all that -- promises.  We've got enough of that from our politicians.

          Anyway, back to the problem of water shortage here at home.  Just to give you a picture.  You could not just open the faucet full blast.  The flow is controlled to a little below medium or else you'd have grayish water flowing from the faucet, filled with brownish to blackish particles which could be sand or soil.  Booo.  Another thing is, when it rains hard in the evening, people know and already expect that there would be no water flow the following day because the water district will have to allow those silly particles to settle on the bottom of the reservoir or else again, you'll be seeing grayish water flowing from the faucet.

          So while taking a bath, while waiting for the pail to be filled to the brim with water, I was repeating to myself, "Patience, patience, patience." Then, I thought of something.  I know it was such an unexpected time and venue for an epiphany of thoughts to take place.  But there was no way of stopping it.  Not when the flow of water from the pipe was damn slow, you feel like you can still insert a power nap in between showers.

          I was thinking, who then is really the patient one?  Who, among us, is patience personified?  Who, among us, lives by heart, the virtue of patience?

          Could it be the farmer?  He who toils in cultivating the land almost everyday under the unforgiving heat of the sun, while riding on his loyal mate, the carabao, which takes its time waddling as it walks on the rice field.  The farmer, even if he wants his task done in a short time, will have to bear with the speed of the carabao, which walks as if it was in the park.  It has no knobs or gears for the farmer to press on for a faster speed.  aside from that, there was no other way to till the soil very well but with and thru the carabao.  Most farmers could not afford the gas-powered machine that tills the soil.

          The farmer spends his day at the farm.  He sits by the ricefield, as if watching the rice plants grow.  He waits for more than a couple of months before harvest time.  Sometimes harvest would not be as bountifuk as expected, sometimes harvest time does not arrive at all specially when pestilence strikes.  However, the farmer never ceases to do what he does best.  Whether pestilence strikes or not, come rain or dome sunshine, he continues to take care of the land.  It is almost a vocation.  Being a farmer is not necessarily financially rewarding.  It takes love for the land to be a farmer.  Most of all, it takes a lot of patience.

          Could it be our teachers and / or professors?  Before we became professionals, we were nothing more than an empty slate.  We only had -- well most of us -- the desire to learn.  They painstakingly taught us to read and write, count, add, subtract, divide, then on to the higher levels, they taught us how to diagnose and treat patients, to build infrastructures with strong foundations, to become good entrepreneurs,  to defend our clients in the courtroom, and to do practically everything.

          Most of the time, we forget our teachers and / or  professors.   Even after we bask in our place under the sun, even after we find our niche in our own professional world,  most of our mentors remain in the place where we first met them, still doingnwhat they do best -- teaching kids and bearing with their tantrums, teaching college students, and graduate students.  Again, it is almost a vocation.  It takes love for teaching.  Most of all, it takes a lot of patience.

          Next, I could not help asking, could it be the doctor? He/She, who spends almost half of his life studying and burning the midnight candle.  He/She who misses a lot of family occasions and shyly says no again and again to a lot of invitations from friends.  He/She, who misses meals and hours of sleep like it's nothing new at all, also missed his/her child's first step, first meaningful smile, first word, all for the sake of his/her patients.  He/She, in efforts of painstakingly growing up professionally, endures being shouted at and shamed by insultants, uhmm, I mean consultants, in front of everyone.  The senior residents also feel entitled to shame you, or criticize you, but come to think about it, they just happened to actually train ahead.  They were juniors themselves and also commited mishaps, but they tend to forget that.

          It is a cruel and stressful world that we doctors belong to, and that is an understatement.  Amazingly, a simple thank you from our patients works miracles.  Seeing our patients improve and get well dissolves all our pain, and I mean both figurative and literal (e.g. muscle pain from gruelling duty shifts) pain.  To survive in this profession, like any other profession, needs commitment.  It is not all the time that the financial returns make you "roll in it."  In fact, I would rather become an economist or a statistician or a business entrepreneur if I wanted to be filthy rich.  Again, it is almost a vocation.  Most of all, this profession calls for a lot of patience.

          There are actually many other jobs and professions I could think of as a challenge of patience.  Could it be the fisherman, who wakes up early while most of us are in deep sleep, and sails to the deep blue to catch some fish?  They even stay for days at sea.

          Could it be the nurse, who religiously follows the doctor's orders, bathes the patients, listen to their sentiments, and attend to their needs while being confined.  They too are shouted at, or get into misunderstandings with doctors, and sometimes, are even shouted at and doubted upon by patients and their families.

          The questions could go on and on.  I am not sure if the answer would come.  One thing for sure is that, each one of us probably have to work our way through this virtue.  It does not come easy and it is a never ending challenge I guess, because everything and anything on this world can and will test you patience.

          Like this water flowing through the faucet.



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