Sixteen years ago my best friend died suddenly of cancer, leaving behind a young family. A tragedy like that always has a profound impact on you. For me, it prompted me to think about things differently, to re-evaluate what was important and to put greater value on the many small details in life which we often overlook when we get busy and stressed.
I thought about those sentiments earlier this week when I attended a piano recital one evening. Lately it seems like time is running away on us. We never seem to have enough time in the day, running from pillar to post all day at work and then doing the very same thing at home in the evenings to look after our families. Lately I’ve found it difficult to find time just to stop and draw breath.
All the medical evidence is very clear about the fundamental importance of looking after ourselves and doing small things every day for our own wellbeing. In particular, most of us should be getting more sleep than we do. It’s also important to take what I think of as moments of reprieve. Keeping yourself well and healthy isn’t just about exercise, healthy eating or being immunised, but also about carving out moments to drop down a gear and stand back from the busy and demanding pace of modern life.
The piano recital I attended featured a young and very talented pianist. As he sat down and started to play, I was absorbed. For the duration of his performance, I was able to leave behind life’s complexities, relax and concentrate wholly on the beautiful sounds I was hearing. I found myself marvelling, not just at the music but also at the technical skill of this 23-year-old which enabled him to conjure such an astounding performance out of an instrument made only of wire and wood.
Twenty minutes later when the performance finished, I was suddenly reminded how incredibly important moments like that are. How powerful it is just to stop, sit and appreciate a small and simple thing. For me, these moments often happen when I listen to music but there are many other ways people have of taking a moment of reprieve from the usual pace of life. Whatever they may be, I think they are an integral part of who we are as human beings.
So whatever rose you like to smell, I ask you to please make sure you make the time today to do just that. Stop, sit, think, relax. Show yourself some of the kindness, care and compassion that you so selflessly show to our patients.
Speaking of selflessness, I read today that Stephen Sutton, the inspirational English teenager who raised almost $6m (NZD) while battling bowel cancer, has passed away aged just 19. If you haven’t already seen his inspiring story, I’d invite you to read about what this optimistic and positive young man was able to achieve for others even as his own health declined. It, too, is incredibly powerful stuff.