My father has been my greatest teacher. I have always maintained that if I am able to become half a parent he has been to me, I will be a successful father. He has been a leader that I have followed, quite literally, ever since I took my first step. Of all the things that I have picked up over the years, a sense of being selfless tops the list. I might argue, if given a fair hearing, that being a doctor that comes naturally to him. I will not be far from the truth if I confessed that I have always found selflessness a very hard trait to possess.
It is on this premise that my father and I had a chat about my work. He asked me, very simply, about the time I went to work. Given the demands and the randomness associated with a toddler, I offered a time span in the morning. His response, to the same question, baffled me. He retired a few years ago from his first job. So when I asked him about the time he spends at the new job (he teaches now too!), he said he never went to work. Actually, the words, and I do hope I remember them correctly, were: "I have never went to work in my entire life. I have, however, always performed my duty and there is no start or end time for that".
As much as I love my job (I really do!), I have never looked at it as anything else. My father, on the other hand, in decades of being a professional doctor, never viewed his job as just that. He has always had a duty towards his family, his patients, his country and, most importantly, to himself. This sense of owing it to himself to get better every day in his art, to do more and to give more has carried him to becoming one of the best. Ask him, however, and he will say "there is still much to learn and do".
Yes, I am a father now. The toddler that is trying to walk looks up to me and I am responsible for his well being and growth. It is time, however, to truly understand the meaning of what my father has demonstrated all his life and Mr. Rudyard Kipling so eloquently wrote:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
Image Credit: Flickr (nandalai)