I had a patient that was a hugely famous Hollywood Director. It was Thanksgiving day. I went down to my little office to do some work. There was a call from someone who said he was a personal assistant and he was looking for a physical therapist for his client. I told him I would be happy to see his client, not having any idea what I was getting myself into. An hour later, in through my office door walks not only the director but also his box office star. They had just finished making a movie together. I am not going to mention names, since that would be illegal, but it was a thrill to meet the actor and see him sitting in my tiny lobby. I was a fan, so it was both exciting and awkward. I then took the director back into a treatment room. His neck was the problem. It was, perhaps, one of the most tight necks I have ever seen. He was wracked with pain. He yelped when I touched it. “How did this happen?” I asked. I will never forget his response, “All my life, there was just one thing that I wanted to do. I wanted to do this more than anything else in the world. And now, I am doing it. And it's killing me. I spend hours hunched over a chair watching editing. I spend tense hours in a directors chair telling people what to do. Yelling at people on a phone. You have no idea how much stress I have doing what I love.”
|No, it was not this guy.|
I will never forget his words. This guy had met his aim, but it was literally too much for his body. I read recently that he took a break from directing. I hope he finds a way to get back to it, it obviously was his passion. I have to wonder how many other people finally reach their life’s goal only to realize, this isn’t what I thought. I have to wonder whether “meeting your aim” is the journey or the destination. I received a comment yesterday that asked the same thing. The writer hinted that the journey was the real goal, not the destination. Thinking about all the life stories I have heard, he may be correct. Getting there isn’t half the fun, it's all the fun.
I have one thing about my job that I love. It's really the only thing that has kept me going as a PT for 20 years. My patients tell me about their lives. In great detail, they tell me about their loves, losses, tragedies and successes. I see many clients for an hour, 2 times a week, for several weeks. They may not say much the first few visits, but after two weeks, we are old friends. I have had 90 year old ladies tell me about passionate and illicit love affairs. I have heard dead hooker stories from retired Japanese business men. I have spoken to a man who owned 62 Kentucky Fried Chicken franchises but was illiterate. I have had clients that survived Auschwitz, the holocaust, the rape of Nanking, and escaped the Khmer Rouge. I had a patient who owned 3 gas stations tell me how he escaped North Korea by climbing over the mountains and making his way on foot. You would simply not believe the stories I have heard. I believe them. The people that told me these things, did so with the passion that can only come from firsthand experience. It’s the best part of my job.
So, when I talk about finding your aim, I really have a lot of examples in my mind. I have met lots of people who never had time for such a pursuit. Life can be hard and cruel. Survival comes before your inner hopes. But many others did pursue their dreams. I have met inventors, authors, UN delegates, ambassadors, proud parents, and real estate moguls. I have seen enough to know that finding your passion and working toward what your heart wants is not silly or unobtainable. I have also learned that it is never too late to start. Many of my elderly clients have had more than one career . Many have had that second act and it paid off. So, I know it's not too late for me or for you. I have heard the stories of so many people who started at 40, 50, and 60 and remade themselves, that I know it can be done.
So, thinking about my famous directors neck, and framing it against everything my clients have told me, I think yes, the journey is what counts. And be aware, that reaching your aim can be different from what you expect. Sometimes, when you reach the top of the stairs and open the golden door, you find another set of steps.