When I travel, I always have a book to read on the airplane. I usually have several that I've been waiting to start or finish on my next trip. Having grown up close to his boyhood home of Hannibal, Mo., one of the authors I enjoy reading -- his quotes in particular -- is Samuel Longhorn Clemens, better known as Mark Twain.
One Twain quote that caught my attention was written in 1898: "Good friends, good books and a sleepy conscience: This is the ideal life." This quote makes me ask, is that what the ideal life should be? This quote came from a time before radio or television, and it preceded the Internet by at least 80 years. Does it apply to the world today?
Back then, families and friends spent time together talking and doing things rather than sitting in front of a computer screen while at home or work. Instead of texting each other, people got together more often for face-to-face time.
One reason I ask the question is that my perception of the number of people who take the time to read a book is significantly smaller today compared with 20 or 30 years ago. Certainly, most people don't read as many books as they did a hundred years ago. The importance of reading books seems to have decreased over the past several decades.
It appears to me that younger people often struggle when reading books to learn something new and that many don't bother reading at all, not even for the entertainment value. Instead, they'll listen to an audio book on their iPod, car stereo or MP3 player. Many would prefer to see the DVD rather than take the time to read the book cover to cover. It's a much more passive way of getting material from a book.
That's not to say that as a nation we don t get more information or more news today. We certainly have more up-to-the minute news sources on the Internet, radio and television. However, I encourage you to pick up a book and take the time to read it. It's important to take the time to read books, either to learn something new or for the enjoyment/entertainment factor.
So Ask Yourself
My last point relates to the remainder of the Mark Twain quote, about sleepy conscience being one of the three components of an ideal life. Those EMS personnel that are Type A are practically having a seizure right about now at the thought of going through life with a sleepy conscience. How can someone be successful unless they have a hectic and harried life?
Throughout his career Mark Twain was known as a humorist and talented writer. Twain was then, and remains today, a role model because he challenged people to view things differently than most conventional thinking of the time. He talked about topics and subjects that most people were afraid to mention, even among their friends.
People, especially successful people, would normally take issue with someone who had a sleepy conscience and not consider them productive -- perhaps, they would even call them lazy. Mark Twain liked to portray himself as someone who didn't put forth much effort and, in an almost subconscious way, demonstrated that lack of effort was the secret of his success. He almost thumbed his nose at those who worked hard to get ahead. My point is, despite what other people thought, Mark Twain knew what was important to live his ideal life.
So, EMS managers and personnel, what's your ideal life? When you hang up your stethoscope and look back, will you have enjoyed an ideal life? Hopefully you will, and if you think you won't, why?
We make and lose friends all through our life, and those who remain are those that are around when you need them. Life gets busy, and it sometimes takes an effort to stay in touch with long-distance friends. Don't forget to stay connected with those people who enhance your life.
Anyone in EMS had to read at some point to finish school. If you haven t taken the time to read a book lately take the time, it will enrich you.
For many of you, there's still time to achieve your ideal life, making of the most of every day. As the holidays approach, enjoy your family and friends and continue to make the world a better place.