I wandered back and forth in the small clinic, looking busy. As the town physician, my duties were important. But I was acting overinflated, as if I was even more important than my duties. A preposterous thought. Of course not. Besides, I wasn't good at much else. But the nervousness was definite. Something was up. It was time to give up the pretenses and finally admit it. The problem was me.
It was only two weeks until Christmas but I was still trying to meet last year's resolutions. A doctor is supposed to set a good example. And furthermore, my resolutions were made as a father, and a husband. My New Year's Resolutions: made, but not kept.
And now the year was nearly out. It was time to stop sitting around and get going. I had gained too much weight once moving back to the city, and needed to cut down on my eating. And all that time in the tavern, talking about the latest news, it was just too much. And yes, today would be an excellent time to start working on those cabinets I promised to make.
More like past time, I thought. Much past time.
But back to reality. I shook off my thoughts and shook off my boots and got going. No time for regrets. It was time to be going home. It wasn't fair to let my sour, defeatist mood spread to others in the clinic.
"Good night, Doc Clarence!" the nurse said cheerily. But I just brushed by, saying hardly anything, and not fully realizing why. The fact was, it was time to leave.
So I opened the door to the boardwalk, and headed towards my horse. But with the sudden exit, came sudden shock, a slap on the cheek and a gasp of a cry. Oh my land, was it ever cold! Absolutely freezing. Really, really cold.
Well, I told myself, that's what happens in winter. So with a huff, I looked down and began my walk to my horse. And then it happened.
A gust of wind lifted my eyes, and with them, lifted up everything else. Look, there is the constellation Orion's Belt. And over there is the Big Dipper. I pondered briefly on their ancient history. Then they spoke. It sounds strange, even fantastical, but they really, truly, spoke to me.
Here is what they said:
"You are to have only one serving of dessert from now on."
"Starting today go on a vigorous walk. Repeat regularly."
"And would it hurt you to smile some more! "
Well, what could I say to this. O.K. fine. The winter air reminded me that it was time to get moving home. So when I got to my horse I quickly jumped on the filly. "Giddy up, Ginny. We'll be home soon."
And so we began the trip back home. I hope my wife put chili on for dinner. It's really cold tonight.
Published by Tom Heston MD 11/29/2011
Tom Heston MD is a Johns Hopkins trained physician who practices clinical medicine in the Pacific Northwest.