By J. Ron Eaker, M.D.
I have several legitimate, healthy delusions. Now, on the surface this may appear as a juxtaposition worthy of a seasoned politician, but I feel my irrational thoughts (i.e. delusions) are somewhat logical and justified. I realize this is enough double-talk to keep a Freudian psychoanalyst busy for months, so let me attempt to clarify. My only concern is that if you understand my explanation, you may suffer from the same worrisome thinking as I do. You have been warned.
Delusion number one is that I am invincible. I don’t mean in the Marvel superhero sense but more like I don’t ever think I will get sick or injured sense. I realize this is a very common delusion for anyone under 25, but it is stretching it a bit for a geezer pushing 58.
I fabricate reasons for this invincibility based on running performance and good genes. I have run some of my fastest marathons in the past three years. I attribute most of this to a simple mental decision that I could run faster, not some magical training program or speedy pills. For years I thought of the sub-four-hour marathon as futile and foolish, and that my lungs would explode if I attempted to run faster. One day, and I can’t really remember specifically why, I decided I could run faster and not spontaneously combust. And I did. Not because my legs were any younger or my lungs were any more expanded, but because I had the belief that I could do it.
Here’s where the delusion comes in. I made the fallacious assumption that if I could run faster and jump higher then I was immune to cancer, TB, every known “itis” and “osis” and ringworm. This is obviously a nonsequitur, as running faster means one thing. I was running really slow before. The reality is as people get older, more stuff happens, but in my head I am still 30 (but much smarter than I was then).
Delusion number two is that Obamacare will be repealed. I hold on to this illusion like a dad on a roller coaster. I fantasize that once everyone sees how it is accomplishing none of what it was designed to do and is actually destroying both medical care and the medical profession, people will rise up like leavened bread and defeat it.
The realist in me, albeit a very small and ugly component of my psyche, knows that this behemoth has become more entrenched than herpes in a hooker. It would be like suddenly cancelling Social Security or repealing Poland. I still hold out for everything that is good and pure in these United States and hope that we will suffer a mass awakening and Obamacare will go the way of the wooly mammoth. Unfortunately most politicians have the backbone of a Play-Doh snake, so I don’t honestly see them passing anything other than gas. What I really see happening is that things will get so bad that the populace will vote to establish a single-payer system where the government is that single payer. Welcome to the Gulag, comrades!
The third delusion is that hard work leads to success. If I was giving students a graduation speech about today’s workplace, I would tell them to find something they love to do and if someone is willing to pay them for it, be thankful. Don’t expect to necessarily be paid well and don’t expect to be doing the same thing five years from now. Get the idea out of your head that you are going to design an App that Google will pay $14 billion for and instead find something that makes a difference in the lives of others.
Honestly, working hard at something you hate is about as worthless as a screen door on a submarine. Most of us are not going to be wealthy so you might as well be happy, and that doesn’t necessarily come from hard work, it comes from meaningful work. The adage that, “Do what you love and the money will follow” is bogus. I agree with the “do what you love” part, but realize the money may suck. And that’s okay if there is enough meaning in the work. Now if it so happens that you love doing things that make a lot of money, good for you! But don’t come out of the shoot thinking that simply hard work will ever earn you any more than respect. This also applies to your health. Living right, eating well and exercising need to be fun in their own right because there are lots of folks that do all three and get horribly sick.
After writing this I am as depressed as a teenager on cell phone restriction. Maybe being a bit deluded is actually a good thing! Wasn’t it Thales who said, “Know thyself…but what really counts is your Facebook profile.”
This article appears in the May – June 2016 issue of Augusta Family Magazine.
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