Friday, September 26, 2014

"Q" is for 'Quality Vs Quantity'

"I don't want to see the specialist," my 72-year old patient said.
"I really think you should. It would help," I said.
"So tell me my diagnosis again," he said.
I hesitated. I knew where this was going.
"You have Cancer of the lungs with possible spread to the liver," I said slowly.
"So what stage is it?" he persisted.
"Staging is done after biopsies and further scans. But it has spread beyond the primary organ," I replied.
"So what can the oncologist do for me? Prolong my life? Be truthful, I have known you for a long time Doc," he said. His smile blunted the seriousness of the situation.
"There's a lot they can do these days. They can definitely add time," I said.
"But at what cost? Add some miserable, painful months versus less time, but fulfilling and with happier moments?"
"It's not always like that. You should consult this specialist and have this conversation there," I said.
"Quality over quantity, Doc. Always quality over quantity," he repeated.

And as it happens so many times, there are certain words that stick with me. My patients, my friends, my acquaintances often inspire me unknowingly. They will do or say something that will touch me. Extrapolate these words to life. Take a work place. Google is a prime example. Their offices in Northern California encourage a relaxed workplace. Its not the amount of time you spend in the office, its how you spend it. They have relaxation sessions, sleep pods, congenial atmosphere, in house gym, informal attire among many other perks. 

Our friends, family and acquaintances number in the hundreds. But on how many can you rely on? The real test of reliability is in real situations. Depth of friendship does not depend on the length of time you know the person. As always, it is the quality over quantity. As we grow in years, most people will realize that it is less important to have more friends, and more important to have a few, but real friends. 

As we go through life with our peers, we bond and build relationships. People who understand that it is okay to grow separately, without growing apart, will have life long, quality relationships. We all have a lot of friends and family who we party with, but we all also know in our hearts, that come crunch time, whom are we going to call.

"When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down "Happy." They told me I didn't understand the assignment. I told them they didn't understand life." ~ John Lennon


Sunday, September 14, 2014

"P" is for 'Promises.... kept & broken!'

"I promise to bring you the moon..."
"Yes....And I'll pluck out stars and put them on your feet......"
" sweet...!"

Remember these kind of conversations? Most of them, almost exclusively, occur before marriage. Its the romantically involved, love- struck couples, who promise each other everything under the sun. But I haven't heard any spouse hold the other to that promise. Ever heard "Where's my moon you promised?!"

Politicians are another story. They make promises, realistic ones, but nobody is surprised when they consistently break those promises. And as a result, they are not held in high esteem.. These are individuals, for the most part, with a questionable characters.

Now coming to most of us. How much does your "Word" matter? For people who believe in themselves, who have self-respect, it matters a lot. In fact, to the extent that some people would put themselves at a disadvantage, suffer a financial loss, but still go through with a project or proposition, just because they made a promise or gave their word. History is replete with examples of wars, coronations, assassinations --- all because, someone, somewhere made a promise.

What is a promise? The dictionary definition of  'Promise' as a verb --

 "assure someone that one will definitely do, give, or arrange something; undertake or declare that something will happen."

Not all promises should be taken seriously. Especially those made after a few drinks-- that is just the alcohol speaking! These promises, when made, should elicit a special kind of response -- a polite nod, a gentle smile and wash it down your gut with the next drink.

On the other hand, people of character generally will hold true to their word. Promises from such people are far and few, but you can bank on them like gold.

And here is one promise that all men will keep for sure -
"Can I borrow a kiss? I promise to give it back!"

This is a quote from the now PM of India, when asked by a reporter on the promises he was making on the campaign trail ---

"The easiest way to lose your own self-worth, and the respect of your friends and opponents alike, is to break promises you make." ~ Narender Modi


Saturday, September 6, 2014

'O' is for trying not to go "Over the top....!"

"Good morning Doc, I have to get my voice back," the young lady said frantically to me one morning in my office. Her voice was hoarse.
"I'm sure it will get better," I said, "It'll just be 4-5 days."
"Oh I have to speak at my daughter's graduation this Saturday. And that's just 3 days away," she said. She really looked worried now. 
I glanced at her again. "Your daughter is graduating?" I asked, just to be sure. She sure looked young.
"Yeah doc... and I have to speak in front of 150 people..."
"I can understand that. We can give you a small dose of steroids to hasten the recovery," I said. And then I looked at her chart and saw that she was 32 years old.
"I need your correct date of birth," I said to her. "My staff made a mistake -- I have you as 32 years old." I was apologetic.
"I am 32 years old," she said. "Do I look older?" she had a painful look on her face.
"No.... not at all..." Now I was really confused. Could be an adopted child, I thought. "I am sorry... you just said your daughter was graduating.... and you are 32.... " My voice trailed off.
"Yes, she is.... from Kindergarten," she smiled, understanding the confusion.
"Kindergarten?!...... " I was taken aback.
"Yes, Kindergarten," she repeated.
"You are having a Graduation party for 150 people ... for Kindergarten graduation?" I couldn't hide the incredulity in my voice.
The young lady suddenly had a guilty expression on her face.
"You think that's too much?" she asked.
" no.. " I lied through my teeth.

A lot of times in our lives, we have a tendency to go over the top. Sometimes the splurging is due to genuine excitement and happiness. At other times, it is just to outdo somebody else! And being a Panjabi, I should know. Panjabis as a people, as a culture, are well-known to go all the way, and then some more. 

Going over the top is not necessarily about parties and get togethers we host. It's also about our attitude during our day to day interactions. Its about dropping names, being extremely expansive about our worldly knowledge, and showing off in general about wealth, our success etc.  And why do we do all this? To impress folks around us. Generally, people who feel secure about their social status will not show off as they don't feel the need to do that. You should know you made it, when your friends tell their friends, that you are their friend.

There is a fine line between being proud of our accomplishments, and showing off. Making a lot of noise gets the attention, but not always the right kind. Let the success after working hard make the noise. Too many people spend money they have not earned, to buy things they don't want, to impress people they don't like.

"Celebrate your success, take pride in your accomplishments......but don't go over the top. Because sometimes, the fall on the other side is steep and quick." ~ Author unknown