Tales from the Practice of Medicine: A Personal Hobby

Xu Yulin

PureInsight | November 28, 2005

[PureInsight.org] My patients come from various social classes, ranging from company CEOs to a person who spends his day picking through the garbage. Of course, there are also lawyers, teachers, chefs, singers, dancers and violinists. Here I am going to talk about a patient who spends his day picking through the garbage.

I have noticed that those who are thought to be successful, make more money and enjoy higher social prestige also tend to worry and feel anxious more. When they come to my clinic, they are always chased by their mobile phones. Those phone calls follow them almost every minute. They hardly have a second of free time.

My patient who spends his day picking through the garbage is much more relaxed and happy-go-lucky. He smiles and is relaxed every time he visits my clinic. While he waits, he is calm and quiet. Sometimes he even taps his feet against the beat of the music playing in the background.

Every day after work, I take the same route home. I take the same streets and turn at the same corners. I am used to seeing several people picking through the garbage bins lining the streets. They have become fixtures in my life.

One day, one of the men that I always see picking through the garbage came to my clinic. Both my receptionist Ann and myself were very shocked to see him. Ann's first reaction was that he was lost and had come in to ask for directions. So she asked him, "What can I do for you?" He replied, "I am here to see a doctor." Then he asked for me by my name.

When I heard he was here to see me, I felt like running away. At that moment, I remembered that I had taken a sacred oath that I would treat all patients equally, no matter whether they were rich and of high status or poor and lowly. But now when the poor and lowly garbage man came to see me, I was taken aback and did not behave as I had promised to in my oath.

I felt ashamed of myself. I calmed down and came out to greet him. I began to chat with him and ask what was wrong with him. It soon became clear that he was not a destitute, homeless man. He told me, "I actually don't have any financial difficulties. I do not necessarily need to make money by picking through the garbage. I regard waste recycling as my job. So on Mondays, I concentrate on collecting and recycling aluminum waste. On Tuesdays, I concentrate on collecting and recycling plastic and glass waste. On Wednesdays, I concentrate on collecting and recycling newspapers and paper waste. If everyone strictly followed the rule of waste recycling, this world would be a better place. Improving the environment depends on these small things."

When I heard what he said, I felt guilty. Like a lot of busy people, I too throw out my garbage without bothering to take out recyclable items. That's why there are people like him who spend the day picking through the garbage.

If you do not judge people by their appearance and clothes, your life experience often tells you that those who are keen to help other people are often people whom you may never have paid any attention to. For example, one day, he was late for his appointment. He came in wet and muddy. He felt bad about his appearance. He explained to me that he had helped someone to push a car that had broken down in the middle of a street to the side of the road. The car was so heavy that four or five strong men were unable to move the car even a little bit. Later, a vehicle joined in and helped to move the car. That was why he was late and looked so dirty.

He is also more likely to identify with other people's problems than an average person does. For example, if I come across a person who is lost and asks for directions, I'll try to explain the direction as clearly as I can. But when he comes across such a situation, he will personally take the person to that person's destination without a moment of hesitation.

One day an embarrassing thing happened to us. He gave me two picture frames that contained faded Chinese paper-cuts. The two picture frames were made of bamboo, ordinary looking, and very old. He probably found them in a garbage bin. He had carefully wrapped them up in newspapers. When he unwrapped the newspaper and excitedly presented the pictures to me, I was a little disgusted at the thought that they had been dug out of a garbage bin. I tried to cover up my feeling but apparently I failed to do so. His enthusiasm faded away when he saw my reaction and he became every disappointed. He murmured, "I thought you would love to have the folk art craft from your own culture. They are much better than artificial plastic flowers. They are old but they have sailed from far away across oceans to get here." I immediately realized my mistake, and repeatedly apologized to him. Yes, not only did these two Chinese paper-cuts sail across oceans to get to this country, but also I myself came over here in the same way.

No matter what he does, my patient who picks through the garbage enjoys himself. He is happy living his life. On the other hand, the wealthy executives, who are supposed to have very good lives, go through their lives with a lot of worry and anxiety.

Whether you are happy or not does not depend on how many material possessions you have. Rather, it depends on how much you have spiritually. There is something that you can bring with you when you come to this world and take it with you when you leave this world. Dear readers, do you know what that is?

Translated from: http://www.zhengjian.org/zj/articles/2005/10/23/34323.html

Add new comment