Lessons from the waiting room of a Chilean hospital

Lessons from the waiting room of a Chilean hospital

Sitting in the emergency room of a public hospital in Santiago is certainly not my favourite way to invest my day.
Yet we were helping a friend – and so there we were.

Hiding amongst the assortment of characters that limped, hobbled, coughed, moaned, cried, crawled and wheeled in, I discovered a powerful lesson.
What I witnessed was a stark reminder of the eventual consequences of the choices we make on a daily basis.

Although I’m certain the patients believed they were there by some freak stroke of misfortune, the reality is they were there by choice.
Most likely an unconscious choice, but a choice none the less.
They were suffering for decisions made and habits formed perhaps decades ago.

Imagine sitting down to eat a Big Mac and after the first mouthful you suddenly became morbidly obese! I’m going to assume you would never eat it if you knew that would happen as a result.
Well that is the reality, it’s just the results don’t show immediately.
Time lulls you into a false sense of security. Those small decisions made on a daily basis evolve into habits, habits left unchecked, shape your character and ultimately, your destiny.

In the end we are a slave to our habits, both good and bad.

That is what I saw yesterday.
Distorted forms of human bodies, oozing in their seats.
Arms of jelly with intravenous still attached, lifting cans of diet coke to their lips, followed by a toasted cheese sandwich.
The woman jammed into the seat next to me, consuming more space than was allocated, fiddled with a wrapper and popped a candy in her swollen gob. As she shared her woes over the phone for all to hear.
The room was warmed with a dank perspiration given off by the mass of bodies waiting to be poked and prodded behind the white doors.
One young girl clutching her stomach and moaning in pain, found solace in facebook and a pink yogurt.
A woman shriveled by time and the sun stood by the front door furiously puffing on her cigarette and munching on a piece of white bread.
Children, already obese, robbed of a life before they even had a chance to choose. Waddled amongst the crowd.

Smiles were absent in this place. Instead the patients eyes were glued to their phones scrolling with numb minds.

Is there any wonder why they were sick? Why they were unhappy?
Unwittingly, these people have placed both their feet in the grave, and are slowly, methodically, dragging the dirt down over their own bodies.

Choices.
Choices all around us.
These daily choices are what steer us to the hospital, or happiness.

It is my hope, that people make these choices consciously, with the full appreciation for what it holds for them in the future.
Unfortunately too many unconsciously choose to wander earth like bulging lumps of cancer, polluting their chance at a magnificent life. Someone once said that poverty is an illness. I never fully understood this statement till yesterday. I believe you may be born into unfortunate circumstances, yet beyond a certain age, nothing but your own choices can keep you chained to those circumstances.

The first step is an awareness of the choices you make. Without transforming the unconscious into the conscious, nothing can change.
But from there, everything is possible.

I’m off to assess the small daily choices I make in regards to my health, finances, relationships and how I invest my time.
No doubt there will be some choices that need to change.
I owe a big thankyou to Santiago’s emergency ward for the shake up. 

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