A number of my friends are having a difficult time juggling all the things life throws at them. I understand--been there myself. There are the things we want to do, the things we must do, the things others expect us to do, the things... Well, you see where this is going. And most of you are nodding in agreement.
Just yesterday I was asked, "What kind of doctor are you?" I'm always tempted to answer, "Retired," which sort of cuts off the conversation. Instead, I generally say that I'm a retired ear, nose & throat specialist who's now writing full-time. That leads to the usual follow-up questions, giving me an opportunity to tell them about my non-fiction book and my forthcoming novel. But when I said, "writing full-time," a little bell went off in my head. Writing full-time? Sometimes it seems that I don't even write part-time. Instead, often spend my days putting out fires and dealing with the unforeseen. I'll bet you do, as well.
My agent is hard at work today after four hours' sleep, dealing with over 150 items in her inbox. She's supposedly working full-time as an agent, but I know that she's also functioning as a wife, mother, church member, and a person. She's handling what life throws at her.
During my decade as a professor at a medical school, I was involved in interviewing graduating medical students who had applied to receive postgraduate specialty training in our department. They showed up in their suits and tailored dresses, a veneer of confidence covering their nervousness. I soon found that they had prepared well for the interview process, with carefully thought-out answers to just about every question we could ask. But then I came up with one that always caused them to pause and really think before answering, a question that let me know whether there was any depth to what I saw on the surface. "What would you like said about you at your funeral?"
When you reach my age, you've attended a lot of memorial services. I've listened to a lot of eulogies and given some of them myself. And I never do that without wondering what would be said of me at my final service. I hope it won't just be, "He was a doctor," or "He was a writer." I'd like it to be, "He was a fine Christian, a loving husband and father, who did his best." All the rest can be a post-script.