We've made it another year. Physically survival is too often underestimated. Emotionally we take so much for granted. Intellectually we underestimate the sheer magnitude of this mysterious miracle of life. I want to remember what was great about last year.
It started with me thoroughly enjoying the winter locum in the Trail Hospital, the fine doctors, staff and delightful people I had the priviledge of working with there. How magnificently beautiful and diverse British Columbia is.
Then my own practice survived the business failures of 2009, as the macrocosm of the world reeled, in the microcosm of my office, frank incompetence in business and accounting mismanagement reigned. New owners on the building would not renew the collective leases and staff desertion after the grossest of errors had me working 7 days a week 12 hours aday just to keep a practice open, all the while looking for new offices and new staff.
It would have been even darker were it not for the understanding of patients and referring family physicians, lawyers and their staff. Friends like Laura and Colin stepped in to help. Lo and behold I found a new office in China Town and amazingly with the help of Tracy and Mark the move occurred. I was exhausted but equally amazed. New business administration and accounting began to bring order to the self centered bedlam I'd earlier not attended to struggling with all the immediate demands for patients who overnight lost so much as provincial authorities focused their budgets and attention elsewhere. The sick are rarely a priority. And those who care for the sickest are stigmatized as they are.
Yet here I was in church praying and at home on my knees praying, going to meetings, and finding that truly in times of travail our relationship with God becomes central. Talking with my father, brother and sister in law was inspiring. Friends , colleagues and ministers were all so supportive. Soul food with George was never more appreciated.
And spring came. Out of the darkness and cold, came light and warmth. My sailboat went up on the hard at Mosquito Creek. To fulfill the surveyor's insurance recommendations the hull underwent ultrasound assessment with two areas of weakness found. After the real bloody work of preparation was done Barry the welder came with his magic wand and healed Giri's broken mast and added two new plates to the hull. An ancient evil septic tank was exorcised, water tank leak repaired,and quite amazingly Tom put Humpty together again.
The boat wasn't ready for summer sailing but the weather was perfect for motorcycling and camping. Laura and I had our usual terrific jaunts to the country. We got out together on the Christmas Toy Run and Motorcycle Ride for Dad as well. I did the Oyster Run down in Washington with Donny. The AA round up on Salt Spring Island was the best with Bill and Brian. IDAA conference in San Antonnio, the Alamo and riding a Harley to Corpus Christi were all highlights of the summer.
Then it was deer hunting season and a series of trades with a little out put of money that had me, sans a scooter and a couple of rifles but with a new 30:30 rifle and a 230 Honda enduro.
Laura was with me when I shot a deer. The barbecued tenderloins were so delicious. She enjoyed her days camping, reading, sunbathing in Princeton while I rode all over the back country shooting every can and the bagging the occasional partridge. 4x4ing the Harrison Lake area where fire had struck was an unforgettable drive through dead truck alley.
Then winter was on us and somehow the practice continued with less chaos as Mark's experience grew, Scotia Bank at Granville continued supportive, the taxman fattened, and generally I was again able to focus on learning medicine, amazed at the advances in the knowledge of addiction, brain injury and human sexuality.
I enjoyed very much being asked to teach a course on spirituality in mental health and addiction settings. Several of my articles were also published by the Medical Post. I loved the Canadian Author's Association monthly meetings and especially enjoyed our writer's circle readings and criticism. I continued in the Blue Water Cruising Association and joined the Harley Owner's Group.
I was a reader at Christ Church Cathedra until my move to the north shore caused me to attend St. James Anglican Church more often, mostly because of their later service. In retrospect, practicality has often had a major role to play in my church attendance. I used to attend St. John's Anglican Shaughnassey Sunday night service because I wasn't back from sailing for morning mass. Then I attended Wednesday night West Coast Biker's Church until they moved further out of the city. I was attending Rainbow Community Church evening service in the West End till they moved East Vancouver and hopefully this year I'll get back to them and the Biker church.
I attended the West End Pride Parade, made it out to several charity functions, including Shout, Turning Point and Loving Spoonful. I was divinely dressed for the annual Emperor and Empress charity fundraiser and continued to support Avalon Women's Centre which does great work for women with addictions.
Strathcona Men's AA meeting and the other AA meetings I attend have all made my life fuller with the inspiration, the fellowship and service involved. Cyberdocs on the internet and the email friendships I continue there with others around the world, and blogging, have all added a special richness to my life.
My nephew Andrew's visit with his friend Kyle awakened me to the fact I was probably aging. Their staying out all night partying and liking it seemed a truly alien concept to me yet I believe I may well have been like that when I was in my 20's. I really have grown to love going to bed early, early morning rising and generally G.O.D. – good, orderly, direction. I fear I'm getting set in my ways. My cat, Angel, certainly is.
Now when I think back on the year I really didn't believe my health or sanity would survive the spring. All I thought of for weeks was leaving medicine and working as a shoe salesman. I never wanted to have to trust another person in business or work the extra hours and devote the time and energy involved in making work for others. I never wanted to talk to another contemptuous government agent or beg on behalf of another patient for services that had been promised. I wanted to get on my motorcycle and ride off into the sunset leaving everything and everyone.
Yet I didn't and it all got better. The sun rises after the darkest part of the night. I felt the same about my boat. So much cost and so much work and so much uncertainty. I would have sold it but there wasn't any market for a holy sailboat with a broken mast. I worried it was a metaphor for my life too. But then that was fixed.
And here I am today moored in Salt Spring Marina listening to the wind blowing in the rigging, white caps in the harbor, glad I chose to stay another day before returning to Vancouver. I almost left this morning, lifting the outboard from the dinghy and locking it at the stern, then putting the dinghy on the deck. VHF weather 3 said there'd 20 to 35 knot SE winds in the Strait of Georgia, if I left then I'd go through Active Pass on the turn, and yet. The autopilot isn't working. We were mucking with the hydraulic steering, the water cooling system has a leak, it's winter and cold, I've just put on the hydrovane again and haven't tested it. There's simply no rush. Tomorrow the low will have passed. 15 knot winds predicted from the south. I have the boat all stowed. I'll pay for another day. It's New Year's day. Relax already.
Looking back it was a series of challenges like any year. Each seems at first insurmountable and then somehow whatever that was falls behind and something else takes it's place. All a series of highs and lows like the weather. Sailing, is a great metaphor for life. It's a long haul. Motorcycling is just a metaphor for the short haul.
To paraphrase Mark Twain, most of the deaths and disasters I've know have been in my mind.
2010 is a new year. Last year we had President Obama and Prime Minister Harper. Bin Laden is still out there somewhere and for that we have more and more Security. The Cold War was lost to the the War on Drugs which has now lost to the War on Terrorism. What next? The real estate money crisis, the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, threats of new air borne virus while HIV is increasingly treatable, global warming and planetary pollution, the space station and color is back in fashion. Any year above the ground is a good year. This was a particularly good year.
2010 will be a good year too. The 2010 Winter Olympics are happening right here in February in Vancouver and Whistler. Vincent Massey is having its Winnipeg high school reunion this spring. There's always Sturgis in the summer for motorcyclists to dream about. IDAA is meeting in Buffalo this August and AA is having it's big convention in San Antonnio. I might even make it out to a Blue Water Cruising Association rally.
Mostly I'll be thankful if I'm alive, well, uninjured and will pray the Jabez prayer indeed. I think my Dad is terrific when he tells me in his 90's that he's heading for 100. I hope he makes it.
To all those who are friends, I do wish you a wonderful year of joy and peace. To those who consider me your enemy I wish you well and hope that I am more forgiving. I am very thankful to my teachers and mentors.
This 2010,I really do want to be a better person, a good friend, a fine doctor, a responsible citizen, a talented writer, a safe rider, a competent sailor, a straighter shooter, a caring family member, a good pet owner, considerate of my household plants and all round closer to God.