I don’t have a normal 9-5 job. I don’t sit behind a desk, put on heels, or don gorgeous jewelry to match the day’s outfit. I’m an RN, and every time I punch the clock in my most-of-the-time ironed scrubs, my day is full, sometimes with what seems like monotonous tasks, and at other times a series of unexpected emergencies – and often, both! And there are days when I wonder why I ever left my 9-5 job!
World War II veterans, teachers, policemen, grandmas, musicians, widows, homeless dads, and Holocaust survivors are just some of the people I have had the privilege to care for in some of their most vulnerable moments in life. Once, I even cared for a woman who was an olive jar packer! Most of my patients have more history than they do future, and I have the privilege of donning what I now call my “school shoes” and collecting as much of their wisdom as I can. And, the older I get the more I realize how very little I know – so I collect that wisdom in a small journal I keep in my locker. Over the past couple of work days I’ve found myself thumbing through its pages, but when it fell off the top shelf and right into the bag that I carry to work, I just knew it was time to share some of it.
Some of it funny, some of it profoundly thoughtful, the following thoughts are answers to the question I often ask my patients. “If you could share just one nugget of wisdom for this 50-something-year-old, what would it be?” Most times, they know just what they’d share and immediately let it roll right off their tongue. Other times, it causes them to ponder for a while – and that’s not always a bad thing. When you’re nearing the end of your life, perhaps pondering is the wisest thing one can spend time doing. I’m glad to suggest they do just that…… And I’m also thankful I get to ponder their wisdom, even years later. Here are a few of the nuggets I’ve collected……
“Don’t be so offended. Get over yourself.” Tony
“Just be nice. It’s really not that difficult.” Rebecca
“Never look down your nose at someone. You’re no better than they are.” Harry
“Call your mother and father.” Rosemary
“If you feel like you’re supposed to call someone, don’t wait.” Maryanne
“In this life, you’ll meet some swell people. When you do, tell them they’re swell.” Matthew
“Family is everything.” Janice
“It feels really good to say you’re sorry.” Tim
“Be an encourager every time you open your mouth.” Norma
“Slow down. When you go through life 100 miles an hour, you miss out on the most precious moments and people. And you cannot throw your life into reverse.” Andrew
“Pass that chocolate cake!” Rosie 😉
“People only know what you tell them. Don’t tell them all your business.” Emma
“Money can’t buy you health or more time. You’re still going to die, and you’re not taking a penny with you.” Arthur
In a few minutes, I’ll put on my school shoes, head to the hospital, and meet my patients for the day. If they are awake, hopefully I’ll get to collect some newer nuggets of wisdom. Meanwhile, here’s some from me to you – Get yourself some school shoes. It doesn’t matter if they are nursing shoes, construction boots, high-heeled pumps, or combat boots. The hours you work don’t matter. The number of miles you drive there doesn’t matter. What you do for a living doesn’t matter. We all come across people during the day who have more history than future. Make eye contact, put your phone down and look into their eyes. Ask them to share a life lesson they’ve learned. You just might walk away in those shoes a wee bit wiser.
Now, I’ve got to go lace up my own school shoes. And yes, I think I’ll have that slice of chocolate cake too!
“Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?” Job 12:12