It was Boxing Day and I’d woken to a rewarding time ahead of me. There were some messages still coming in with wishes of goodwill. I needed to send some out too. So, I settled for sparing some time to chat. The lot fell on a pediatrician friend I hadn’t heard from for quite some time. I wanted to find out how she was doing during the Christmas season and to express my good wishes. She was about 300 miles away, in Calabar, where so many activities were taking place during the season.
“Christmas? I’m not the best person to know how it is. I’ve been busy in the theatre resuscitating babies.”
I was quite thrilled, though I could read she meant she wasn’t in the usual Christmas mood that characterized Calabar at the moment. The reality was that I wasn’t interested in finding out how Christmas was in Calabar; I was interested in knowing how her Christmas season was.
I needed to let her know, so I replied, “That is the real Christmas. I’d give up what I’m doing now to be in that situation.”
“Really?” Her response smacked of surprise.
“Sure. You’re doing something really worthwhile, building and mending lives; giving hope to people. That’s the real Christmas.”
She dropped a smiley face before adding, “Thank you. You know, one does this so often that it becomes a routine and one hardly sees it any differently.”
She was right. But, I wasn’t going to accept that as the way it should be. So, I took her through the experiences. I wanted her to feel the freshness in her efforts, the love that throbs in the moments and the transformation that takes place through her routine. I reminded her of the panic that parents express when the children are brought in and the debilitating conditions of the children, sometimes too weak to eat, cry or even talk. Then I contrasted these with the calm and radiance that shine on the faces of the parents after being attended to and noticing the child’s emerging smile and playfulness. I reminded her that her efforts contribute to the transformation. That is infusion of life, a rebirth of some sort. That is what we are called to do, to be co-creators by creating and re-creating conditions of better wellbeing, love, happiness and peace.
Isn’t that the way many of our lives are? Getting so caught up with the routine that we fail to feel the essence in our daily engagements? Aren’t we so often bugged down by routine that we hardly see the beauty in our activities? I’ve noticed how parents feel obligated to love their children and care for them that they see and feel only the routine in the expressions of love, oblivious of the uniqueness of each moment and the life it breathes. I’ve seen workers approach their jobs as drudgery, compelled by financial need to stay on it without appreciating the lives it touches or the fun it should bring to their lives. Routine should not make our lives any less interesting, especially when we can relate with the purpose inherent in it. Focusing on the purpose rather than just the activity of our engagements or activities can enrich our perspective of life, our relationships and our overall wellbeing. This, I think, should be the Christmas gift we should gift ourselves.
Well, I ended the chat with my friend by reminding her “each mother, each child may take it that you’re doing your job, but your work breathes positive energy into life – your life, their lives and the world. This, for me is the real purpose of work.”