We are the Difference

I’m going to get a little personal in this blog, which is weird for me. Maybe not weird, but unusual since I’m a functional introvert and all. But I was told that if I wrote a good blog (this is my first), I would become very rich. Right?

I don’t get too excited about a lot of things. My highs are not too high, and my lows are not too low. I tend to live in a moderate, middle, calm area that I sometimes call Zen. Now in my mid 40s, I’ve realized some ideas that DO excite and energize me. They are as follows:

Preventing disease with Education/Science. I have this covered with my profession. I was a primary care physician, but am now an urgent care doctor. Every work day, I get to repair injuries, cure diseases, educate random people about viruses vs. bacteria, and teach people about how a healthy lifestyle can prevent future illness. I always and enthusiastically show kids their X-rays on the computer screen, broken bones or not, because who knows who the future Marie Curie or Isaac Newton is? The look on the kids’ faces when they see their own bones, by the way, puts me in a good mood for hours. If karma exists, my job allows me to rack up lots of points (whew!)

Righting wrongs in society, I have skinny legs, so I look weird in tights. And I don’t have the formula quite down for webbing. So, instead, I’ve decided to put some time and energy into politics. I’ve been quite…motivated… by the political winds lately, which has got me off of my couch, knocking on doors and registering people to vote. I’ve found exciting groups to help me direct my energy, and it feels good to be part of a process that can make a difference, both locally and nationally. It’s so energizing to actively resist what I find to be a backwards and harmful trend in politics.

Normalizing atheism and free-thought. Most people who have known me over the years know me as a good person. They know I have some flaws, of course, but am always trying to do the right thing. It brought me great joy to post a long “confession” about my atheism on Facebook earlier this year. My goals were two-fold: 1) to force the people who know me to mash together this idea of a “great guy” with an atheist/humanist and 2) to let people who may be thinking of floating my way (the free-thinking way) that it’s ok on this side of the fence.

Hey, I thought that Wil was an introvert, you may be saying. Why is he tooting his horn so much? Well…here is where I tie it all together.

I choose to be an example of how I want this world to be. In my job, I interact with all kinds of people (patients) who I would not otherwise interact with, and vice versa. Among them I’m sure are some bigots & racists. After a personal interaction with me, where we actually shake hands (maybe I sew up a nasty laceration) and they feel better because of me…maybe, just maybe, some of them rethink their racism. Maybe the next time they hear or use the N-word in conversation, they will feel a bit of uneasiness well up from somewhere new. Maybe a girl who sees her own ankle bones on a computer screen and thinks that it is super rad (pun intended) and realizes that a career in science IS an option and she will one day discover what dark matter is. Maybe I can interact with right-leaning friends or colleagues and remind them that people with different political views can be friendly and respectful. And maybe, because of me, people do not recoil when they hear the word “atheist”. 

A couple of months after my first Oasis gathering, I remember Mike Aus saying to the group with a tinge of emotion at the end of the morning “You are the reason for this working, just by showing up, just by being here.” That sat with me for a couple of years, and now I fully understand. Meaning comes from making a difference. I don’t have to change anything about myself to make a difference; I’m just aware that I do. And I’m proud to be a part of a group that makes a difference. Just by being who we are. Just by being there.