The flames flicker, tantalizingly reaching upward, and I sit mesmerized. How many times have I sat by my backyard fire pit and watched this ageless dance? I think; I meditate; I pray. A cigar and bourbon often accompany me. I especially love to stand by it while the snow falls, enveloping me in all its beauty. The memories are many, and they are good.
My sons are with me around the pit. I cherish these times. I try to remember every moment, for I know they are numbered, the passage of time unrelenting. Our conversations are varied, often deep, always important. I learned their hearts, and better yet, they mine. I am happy and so very proud.
I am with friends, my “band of brothers,” fellow physicians with whom I have served through the years. With cigar and bourbon in hand, we, too, talk about “anything and everything,” sometimes medical, most often not. I sit in awe of them as I ponder the lives they have touched, and more, the difference they have made. We are growing old together. It is good to have such friends. I love them like my own brothers.
I sit surrounded by young faces –the heart of the medical staff — those coming behind me. Their “yet to come” of the future is still greater than their “already been” of the past. They are my passion, the real reason I have remained in medicine for as long as I have. I want to invest in, teach, encourage, and mentor them any way I can. They are the future leaders of medicine – the visionaries, the decision-makers, the catalyst behind the inevitable changes that must come if we are to provide the best for those entrusting their care, often their lives, to us. They want someone to mentor them. It is an often unspoken request conveyed through a language unique to each of them. I have learned to “hear” the subtleties of this language through my years of leading medical missions and teaching medical students, PAs, and NPs. I want to be there for them, so I make myself available. I do so around the fire pit as often as possible. We share food, drink, and life-giving conversation. Relationships are made and strengthened between different specialties, and trust is created. Only trust can bond them together so they can be the unified, cohesive, and effective team required to lead us forward. “Fire pit time” brings them together, and that brings me joy.
Medicine demands much from us, and we need much in return. We all need our own “fire pit time,” however that may look. I hope you will find yours.