Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind

Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

Cape Cod

Archive for November, 2012


“Hunger can change everything you thought you knew about yourself.”

It’s Thanksgiving weekend, a good time to think about this. Ever been hungry? Not “man, when is dinner?’ hungry, but the kind of hunger that comes from not knowing when, or if, dinner is EVER coming? I haven’t, but I can readily understand what the quote is saying. Peel away the veneer of civilization, chip through the cushion of the societal safety net, turn a deaf ear to the bleatings of the entitled as they moan about “hunger” on an iPhone, and think about what real hunger exposes.

There was a time in America, not too very long ago, when the country was plunged into a Recession. Terrible, unthinkable weather patterns caused crippling drought; people sought to blame mankind for it all. Government was tapped out, reeling from the costs of war and the economic devastation of unemployment and stagnation in private business. People of all ages, from all walks of life knew true hunger for the first time. Real hunger. Clothes falling off your skeleton hunger. The Great Depression.

I have not known hunger, not like the hunger suffered by the denizens of the Dust Bowl years. In our Western world we see this hunger so rarely that it is front page news when we do. No, our hunger is less elemental, more venial than mortal. Embarrassingly skewed to the ‘want’ side of the want/need continuum. How, then, would we behave in the face of true hunger? What would we learn about ourselves if we had no hope for a next meal?

Who among us would save Tom Joad?



Sunday musings 11/11/12

Sunday musings…

1) Obfuscate. To lie, just better dressed.

2) Veteran’s Day. Today we remember all of those who have served our country in the Armed Forces. Or, do we? Think about it…when is the last time you actually thought about what it meant for someone you know or knew to serve in our military? Your Dad, an uncle, your sister, or the couple across the street who are now wearing Dockers instead of Dress Blues. All of the CrossFitters who will retire this year, like Paul, Andy, Tosh.

What sort of recognition do you really have of their service? How exactly will you express that?

3) Childhood. Mrs. bingo and I used to whisper in our children’s ear each night: “you’re having a happy childhood.” They have no memory of these whispered exhortations, but they did have very happy childhoods, indeed.

When does childhood end? It’s certainly not the beginning of school. Judging by my experiences it most certainly isn’t in college, either! Perhaps it’s that first job, or the first time you pay the rent out of your own checkbook, or pull out a couple of bucks to tip whoever. The birth of your first child is certainly a wake-up call; maybe that’s when your own childhood concludes. Mrs. bingo and I always said we’d consider ourselves grown-ups when we owned our own washer and dryer.

Could it be, though, that childhood never ends? I think of friends, a few much older patients, others who have never lost that child-like sense of wonder at the world around them. For sure, some folks are forced to grow up much too quickly and take on the responsibilities we associate with the end of childhood when the calendar says that they are much too young to be considered an adult. But is even their childhood truly over?

All childhood really does end, of course. We do, eventually, all move on to something that looks like all grown up. But our childhood remains there for us, all of the wonder of discovery, all of the memories, all of the people who brought us up. It’s all still there, ready to be called upon when we need a little boost, when we need to remember who and why we are, to feel again what it felt like to have few responsibilities and fewer cares. It gets a little better as we get a little older, too, doesn’t it? Childhood memories seem to be wired that way.

You are never too old to have a happy childhood.

I’ll see you next week…


Attitude (Adopted from Sunday musings 11/4/12)

It’s funny how stressful situations remind one of the truisms of life. We are now Day 7 without power in the White house, our own “Little House on the Prairie” complete with fireplace and communal bed (shared by 3 dogs). The tiny generator we were able to score powers the fridge and the sump pump (we had 6 flooded basement episodes in 2011) but not the furnace. The temp just went UP to 52 in the house.

And yet, it’s OK. We have food and we can cook. We have wood and offers of more if we need it. Randy has become a wizard at building and stoking a fire. Me? Grunt work like foraging for wood and fuel, and starting an epically awful beard. The extent of my pique, such as it is, is refusing to wear a tie to work until the power is back on.

We’re OK largely because we have CHOSEN to be OK. It’s a bummer, and it’s a nuisance, but it’s the hand we’ve been dealt, one that is not nearly as bad as others in Sandy’s aftermath. Our attitude is in stark contrast with others on display. One neighbor, a city councilwoman no less, de-camped to a hotel after bitterly complaining about the noise of the generators, our “little engine that could” especially. “We just couldn’t take it anymore.” Really?

My staff and most of our patients handled stuff with an equally sanguine attitude, re-scheduling when necessary, coming in early or staying late, whatever. The few folks who copped a bad attitude stuck out so painfully it was comical. The gal who hung up on me when I told her I couldn’t examine her pinkeye without power (M’am, all I have is a flashlight and a toothpick). The patient coming for a surgical consult, appointment confirmed by automatic email Monday night by a computer that was as dark and dead as the rest of the office when she arrived on Tuesday, who screamed at us for 10 minutes on the phone on Wednesday. Really?

Our circumstances often arrive unchosen and uncontrollable, and most often we are left with no choice but to react to them as well as we possibly can. While the circumstances are beyond our control we certainly can control our attitude, our outlook. We are in control of how we will approach the task at hand. We are in control of how we will approach the person at hand.

Frankly, I don’t know if a positive attitude makes the tasks any easier, or makes it more palatable to get through something tough like this Sandy thing What I DO know is that it is always easier if I come across someone in similar straits, or someone I’ll need for help, if they are at least trying to “put a good face on.” I think this goes for everyday life, too, and making this your baseline choice (a good attitude) might make it easier to keep your chin up when the chips are down.

Attitude is a choice. Your attitude says more about you than it does about your circumstances.



You are currently browsing the Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind blog archives for November, 2012.