This I Believe

Don - Homewood, Alabama
Entered on April 18, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50

I believe that we are here for two reasons: To Learn and To Have Fun.

Lived to its fullest, the life of a curious, fun-loving individual can be spent with deep purpose and personal satisfaction, and can influence others in the benefits of the study and practice of Joy.

The idea that one’s occupation can and should be enjoyable opposes the traditional work ethic. Work is work, we are told. Fun is what you get to do after the work is done. At best, Fun is reserved for weekends, for vacations, for retirement. At worst, it is avoided until retirement, displaced entirely with a lifetime of struggle.

Abraham Lincoln recalled, “My father taught me how to work. He didn’t teach me how to have fun doing it.”

My grandfather also valued hard work, yet found joy in everything he attempted. A farmer, florist, grocer, municipal park and playground director, his hands and heart were always close to the earth, and his warm humor spread to everyone around him.

Following his example, I believe that joy is an essential part of personal and professional fulfillment. In my experience, having fun is absolutely consistent with productivity.

Twenty years ago I earned a medical degree, and completed a surgical internship. Once I received my license to practice, I walked out of the hospital, never to return. It wasn’t fun anymore.

Since then I have made my living as visual humorist, drawing amusing pictures and laughing at the happy results. As a student, bookstore clerk, construction worker, ventriloquist, and physician, I learned the value of honest labor, the rewards of performing to an appreciative audience, the satisfaction derived from service to others, and the personal and commercial advantages of advanced education.

I believe that learning is the key to happiness. Curiosity begins an endless process of asking questions, finding answers, building factual and intellectual connections. Along the way, we connect with others, and build bridges to greater opportunity.

As an artist, I have the opportunity to make a living while spreading good will to those around me. I use my surgeon’s hands every day, crafting intricate designs on paper. I continue to study, researching the diverse subjects of my drawings, each one filled with humorous symbolism and verbal associations. The humor in my pictures satisfies the comedian in me, and allows me to share the fun I have discovered with others.

Sharing the joy also helps to satisfy my Hippocratic imperative. The whole point of becoming a doctor was to help people feel better, and my artwork has allowed me to touch the lives of thousands of people in a positive way – far more than I ever could have seen in the busiest medical practice.

Whatever we do for a living, I believe we should learn all we can, and have fun doing it. No one knows how long we will be here, and too many of us wait until retirement to start having a good time. By then, we may have forgotten how.