When I was god
A few years back, I hit that phase of a young mans life where I questioned everything and feared nothing. I challenged every form of religion in open defiance because I had discovered the things I had been taught as a youth were lies. It was during this time that I decided the position of god was open so I bestowed the title upon myself.
A much older and wiser man now, I look back sometimes and wonder how it is that I survived without being struck down by a bolt of lightning or my own arrogance. I guess the old saying that god favors children and idiots is true because I somehow survived.
I did learn a few things from the experience that have remained important so perhaps I should share them now. I'm not endorsing sacrilege by any means. I was wrong to have thought myself anywhere near godlike but the lessons learned may still carry some importance.
The most important lesson I learned was the value of attitude. Your mind is your greatest tool. With it, you shape your destiny and your being. You can also control the environment around you.
To illustrate the point, when I was going through this phase, I was working in the nursing field. I was about 18 years old and very determined. I often ran several days at a time with no sleep simply because I didn't want to miss out on any of the experiences I had been deprived of in my former life.
In the nursing home where I worked, there was this elderly couple who lived at the end of the hall in the room on the right hand side of the corridor. I remember them perfectly. He slept in the first bed and she slept in the bed close to the window. She was in much worse health than he was but he had very bad COPD and sleep apnea. I remember them so well because even though they seemed ancient to me at the time, they were truly in love. I remember how he would hobble over to kiss her good night every single night before he went back to his own bed. Even at my young age, I knew that was something special.
This particular night, I came into work and I immediately noticed something was not right. He always sat at the bird cage to watch the birds and greet the night crew as they arrived but he wasn't there. I asked my nurse and she said he hadn't been feeling well so I quickly did first rounds and went down to check on the couple.
He was laying on the bed, obviously having trouble breathing, so I ran back to the nurses station to tell the nurse, who first scolded me for running in the hall and then went down to check on him. When we got back to the room, he was losing color because his poor old lungs simply were not providing the oxygen he needed. The nurse told me to sit with him while she went to check his chart.
Eternity passed... It seemed she had been gone for hours though it was in reality just a few minutes. When she returned, her message made me wish she hadn't. His family had listed the man as No Code. What this means in the nursing field is that no heroic measures can be taken to extend life. In other words, let the patient die without trying. I'm not good with that. I'm a sore loser and death is not something I just accept.
By this point, the little old lady had noticed something was horribly wrong and she had begun to cry pitifully. She was laying in her bed watching her husband, the father of her children and her mate of at least 50 years die because of a piece of paper. She called me over to her bed and looked up in my eyes and, in a voice like a pleading child's, said "Please, don't let him die."
Headstrong and stubborn, wanting desperately to make the tears stop, I looked at her and told her, "I won't let him. Nobody dies on my shift."
Inside I wasn't so sure, but I was god. If I said he couldn't die, he couldn't.
So I stayed with him the rest of the night. When he dozed and forgot to breathe, I was there to tap his chest and remind him. All night, I stayed by his side playing a gruesome tug of war with death. There were many times I thought I had lost and then I would whisper in his ear, "I'm god, dammit, BREATHE.", and he would. When I had to make my rounds, I made sure someone was sitting with him and I flat out told them, "If he's not breathing when I come back, someone else is going to be having trouble too."
In the end, it was a very long and exhausting night. I slept for two days straight afterwards but I kept my promise to that old woman. Her husband lived through the night. He passed away a few hours into the morning shift but I remember what she said to me when I came back to work. She wasn't angry that he had died. She was happy that I had stood beside him and fought to keep him alive. She gave me a really nice card and it traveled with me for several years until it was lost in a small fire that claimed most of my treasured possessions at the time but that experience taught me a lesson. It taught me that if I could master my own thoughts and control them, I would have control of whatever situation I was in.
I no longer claim to be a god. I have long since discovered that I am a far weaker man than I used to believe myself to be. I'm proud to say that I can offer my problems and concerns to a God who is much stronger, wiser and more powerful than I ever could have imagined. He is also long suffering and loving because he gave me the chance to learn these lessons without striking me dead. But the lesson imparted, whether a god or a man, is important. Your thoughts control who you are and what you can do. What could you accomplish if you set your mind to it?