My grandson, Graham (he’s eight), and I went for a walk one warm Texas morning. As I watched him grind up the sidewalk, I noticed he consistently went out of his way to hit every mud puddle. I realized that the real world slowly teaches us to avoid the puddles. But when you are still full of childhood-induced insanity, you never avoid the most exciting, sloppiest challenge you can find.  

Are you avoiding the puddles? 

In Graham’s world, he can choose: either dive right into a mess or steer around it. In our world, you don’t have to find the mud puddle. The mud puddle finds you. 

Puddles In Our Path

Sometimes I think ODs are the only professionals in the world who, with a smile on our faces, happily sign up for abuse from just about anybody. 

We mindlessly gnaw on rubbery chicken and countless salads while our friendly neighborhood sales rep “gently” berates us to do all we can to increase his income. 

We blindly worship at the altar of every single vision plan because we are afraid we will lose our patients to some rinky-dink box store doctor and his fake designer frames. 

We grieve the death of our self-worth when we see a colleague with his new car, genetically engineered third wife and family full of spelling bee champions and football heroes.

We love to do what my dad always called “waller.”  For you Yankees, that’s how folks in my world pronounce “wallow,” where some nasty beast rolls around in the mud because he wants to. 

Choose Another Road

Maybe we need to change our attitude. It’s time we open up, get brave and dive in. I know the more creative of you are already fist-pumping and ready to do something. You’re tired of being told you need to be this, buy that or sign up for the other. Why not just say “no!”? It’s time to declare our freedom, our joy and our rightful place in the world! These ideas may help:

1. Send money to your local association’s PAC. Your license is in the hands of some lawyer or car dealer who decided to be a state legislator because he had too much time on his hands. Washington, DC, can’t help you. Go local, my friend. 

2. Quit comparing yourself to other eye doctors. You may be a no-account, lazy schlub, but as long as you take care of patients with love, you will be loved in return. Don’t waller. Make somebody see better. 

3. Dress better. I know, you think we shouldn’t judge people by their appearance. But I’m not suggesting you judge anyone; I’m suggesting they are judging you. Totally different. If your preferred professional image is Hawaiian shirt and laid back, at least wash and iron the darn thing and own more than one pair of flip flops, OK? 

4. Ask your patients how they are doing. Not how their eyes are doing, how they are doing. It will make you a better doctor and a better person and they will spend their lives helping your office prosper. (Tip: write it on the chart so you remember it next year!)

5. Turn off the TV. You are already nuts, so why pour even more insanity into your skull? (You can watch the weather, sports and Avengers movies, but that’s it!)

Step up, doctors! Choose the mud you jump in and steer around the mud you don’t want. If my grandson can do it, so can you!