by Hujefa Vora, MD
Last month, the last month of 2019, the last days of the second decade of the third millennium, I talked about change. I was not optimistic at the time about a lot of the changes coming to the way we practice medicine. I don’t believe that many of us are optimistic. I don’t know if any of us have been given reasons to feel optimism. We have become burdened down by the weight of bureaucracy. The bureaucrat rules our every moment of work. I take mine (my work, not my bureaucrats) home with me every night, fulfilling my obligatory paperwork or computer work in my pajamas every evening after putting my daughter to sleep. This work has gotten so commonplace that one of the insurance plans I work with regularly calls this “pajama coding.”
In the New Year, I don’t want to be a pessimist. I want to remember the world through rose-colored glasses. I just needed to find the pair I’ve evidently misplaced. I spent the end of 2019 in Orlando. I took my five-year-old daughter to Disney World for five days. I spent Christmas Eve in the most magical place on Earth. We braved huge crowds of people, long lines at shows and roller coasters, and foul weather as it rained through most of the week. It was there that I had a much-needed realization. It was there with all my childhood friends – Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, Donald, and Daisy – that I found those glasses.
To be completely honest, I was somewhat against this whole Disney trip when my wife proposed we go during my daughter’s winter break. I had not been since my own father took me there at the age of seven. I was somewhat afraid of the prices our travel agent was quoting us. At first, I did not remember the trip with my own parents to be worth these exorbitant amounts of money. Then I remembered riding Space Mountain with my father and the Dumbo ride with my mother and younger brother. Those memories are priceless now as my father is not around anymore to make new memories.
My daughter loved this adventure. At her age, everything she saw, everything she experienced, everything we did as a family, was so real. The magic of meeting all of her favorite Disney princesses – Ariel, Jasmine, and of course Anna and Elsa – enchanted my daughter for every moment of those five days. Disney does an excellent job of making sure that every step you take through their resort and parks is more magical than the previous. Yes, I started drinking the Disney “Kool-Aid.” This piece is starting to feel like an infomercial for them.
The moments that stand out the most for me involved our second day there, when we visited an area of the park called Galaxy’s Edge, which is themed around the Star Wars films, now owned by Disney. My daughter has not seen any of the Star Wars films, as I still think she is a bit young to truly enjoy them. She still insisted that she needed to be a Star Wars Princess, so my wife and I dressed her up as “Princess” Rey from the newest trilogy. First thing that morning, she met Rey and Chewbacca working on an X-wing fighter outside the secret Resistance base. Rey paused from her work to embrace her little twin. My daughter hugged her and sheepishly asked, “Who’s that Princess??” We then made our way to the Jedi Temple where my daughter took in Jedi training for younglings. She and her fellow younglings were then marched across the Galaxy’s Edge to participate in the Jedi Trials. She was given a lightsaber and taught the ways of the Force. As her ultimate test, my five-year-old Jedi fought off Kylo Ren and Darth Vader. At the end of the Trials, my youngling proudly exclaimed that she was ready to vanquish the Dark Side and embrace the teachings of Master Yoda. She promptly “Force-pushed” me onto our next ride, piloting the Millennium Falcon across the Galaxy.
And that is the point where everything changed. That is the point where I found my rose-colored glasses and put them back on. My daughter took in a universe she had never seen, stories and names she had only heard from her father (“I am your Father”) and embraced all of this magic in her heart. Her eyes went wide, and the world was beautiful and magical and filled with nothing but adventure, wonder, and delight. I needed that. I need to see the world that way again. And that is the point.
Five days of magic is what Disney gave my daughter, and I was given so much more. I gained perspective. I returned to work in this New Year, in this new decade, invigorated. My optimism stems from the smiles of my baby girl and her beautiful mother. It stems from an understanding that our imaginations power our spirit and our spirit powers our hearts. This year, 2020, will be an amazing year for all of us because I will it to be so. The world is full of magic. We are so blessed to be physicians. I needed a particular princess to remind me of this. Search your feelings, you know it to be true. I hope your year is starting out as well as mine is. I pray that all of us can find perspective and optimism somewhere in this world, so that despite the bureaucrats and the obstacles and the hazards along our journey, we can continue to serve our patients in this, the highest of all callings in the Galaxy. My name is Hujefa Vora, and this is the Last Word.