You are dying. As you lay in the hospital bed, with the ambient noise of the nearby nurses’ station and people passing, you can feel your body shutting down. The doctors have stopped bothering to run tests—there is no good news to be found. The staff continues to care for your body, but you can see their eyes are concentrating on other patients. Other tasks.
Death is so imminent you have lost the fear of it, due to its inevitability. The “Get Well” Cards have limply bowed their faces; knowing their words of promised health have failed.
And in this long pause between worlds, a young intern rushes in. He seems live and vibrant and vigorous.
“Look, I know they say you are dying. I know what you must be feeling. I was once dying, too. I was just like you are now. Only I took this blue pill. You won’t believe what it can do. If you take it, I promise you life will never be the same. Ever.”
What’s the harm? If it was poison, it would only shorten the delay by hours. Even pain might be relief to this calm passing. So you take the pill with little expectation. But…then…you can start to feel…different. Your stomach starts to soften. Your heart begins to pound with enthusiasm rather than exhaustion. You can feel blood pulsing through your arms and legs and face. You stop gasping for air, and gulping it instead.
“See? See? I told you this was something, eh?! These little babies really do the trick!”
The trick? In Spades!
“Now, I ask you to do a favor for me. I’m only one guy, and there are worlds and worlds of sick people out there. I’m giving you a handful of these pills. All I ask is you give out as many of these as you can by the time you walk out of this hospital.”
As many as you can? Is he kidding you? This is fantastic—a whole new life. A moment ago you were dying, and now you feel as if you could run a marathon! Only a handful? You want more—buckets and backpacks and bushels of the blue pills. You aren’t going to one hospital—oh, no! You are going to every hospital in the city. Heck, every hospital in the state! You are going to be giving out more blue pills than imaginable.
“Look, start with this handful. When you are done, I will be certain to find you and give you some more. ‘kay?”
Pishaw! He will have to find you before you have left this floor. So you bound out the door, ready to share this pill with the first person you meet…which happens to be me.
“Whoa…slow down their fellow! You sure are excited. What has you so riled up?”
You tell me about the blue pill. Seeing my hospital gown and presuming I have need of such a thing, you start to push one toward me.
“No, no thank you. Turns out I have no need for your blue pill. The funny thing is this—I, too, was not doing well. Thought I was dying. And some lady told me about this clever breathing exercise and…well…next thing ya know, I am on my way to dress and leave.”
“The queer part is she told me the same thing—to show everyone on my way out this breathing exercise so they could be well, too.”
You think joining forces would be a swell idea.
“Well…I did think about it for a minute or two. But I look at it this way—I have a whole new lease on life. If I start to stop and give this breathing exercise out…that’s gonna take time. Time I now realize I have precious little of.”
You look at those blue pills…
“Think about it. This is no easy task. I am going to stop and show every one of those people how to do this breathing. That could take hours.”
You are going to have to explain these blue pills to every person, too.
“Some of them are not going to believe it, so I will go through my medical history, explaining how sick I was, explaining how I didn’t believe it at first, and how it has helped me.”
You may have to give some medical history…
“And some of ‘em are going to reject me, regardless of what I say. I am not so sure I can handle that type of rejection.”
Rejection always hurt you more than most.
“So do I want to spend the next 8, maybe 10 hours of my life, working my way out of this hospital, room by room by room, when I could be out appreciating the gift of life this lady gave me? Besides, I think she was moving on to the next room. When she saves that patient, they will go room by room giving out the breathing exercise. Heck, my doing it too is a waste of good resources…way I figure it!”
The young intern WAS headed toward another room. And it sure seemed like a lot of blue pills to pass out. They feel more like little blue anchors in your hand.
“I’m sure someone else will hand out your blue pills. Maybe a doctor or nurse—you know—someone more gifted and qualified in explaining blue pills. Hey, I’ve got some tickets to the Giants/ Patriots game; want to come? Maybe we will run into some sick people there, and give ‘em the blue pill or breathing exercise. What do ya say?”
There will always be sick people. What difference really does it make if you hand out those blue pills today, this afternoon or tomorrow? Tomorrow would be a better day anyway—the Giants and Patriots aren’t playing tomorrow.
And the day passes. And the week. Every year or so, during the spring cleaning, you come across a baggie of blue pills and resolve that THIS will be the year you call the young intern ‘cause you gave all of them out. Some years you even put the baggie in the car for the next time you drive by the Hospital. By Fourth of July they have moved back to the closet to make way for the firecrackers.
And then you find yourself on the internet explaining your story, how you believed in the blue pills, and if only other people would take these blue pills, they would be well. And how, just like everyone else, you think the idea of giving out blue pills to sick people is grand and noble and good, but you are just too busy. Not enough time.
Someone else can do it; ’cause you are too occupied…just…like…everyone….else.