Born to Care?

2010 May 20

For professional caregivers, care is something they get paid to give. Giving care is their job and the means of their professional livelihood. But for the rest of us unprepared caregivers, what if care isn’t a set of skills as much as it is something we are born to perform without the necessity of advanced training?

One of my favorite bands, The Swell Season, say it best in the haunting chorus to the song, “In These Arms”: Cause maybe I was born to hold you in these arms, maybe I was born to hold you in these arms.

I know, it’s strange to think of being born into this world simply to hold a loved one in our arms. Aren’t we’re born into this world to educate ourselves? Born to strive for excellence?  Born to “be all that you can be” as the Army tells us?  Born to find a profession that maximizes our skill set and fulfills us at the same time? Born to perform heroic acts of greatness that merit acknowledgment and publicity?

We chase our purpose around night and day, preoccupied with finding the elusive elixir that will remind us of why we’re here on earth. Money, wealth, and fame seemingly are the signs of a purpose-achieved life. But, what if we were born simply to hold someone we love in our arms?

When I cared for Mom while she was living with a terminal illness, what I was doing mattered. I was needed. Caring, not an alarm clock, had awakened me early in the morning. Love, not caffeine, kept me going through the long afternoons and deep into the night. Mom’s smile, not an award or an increase in salary, kept me awake near her bed while she slept.  I didn’t need a career counselor to help me figure out my purpose.  I didn’t need to underline passages in a book about how to live a purpose-driven life. I didn’t need a specialized degree. And I didn’t need to travel to foreign lands to find myself.

At home, near Mom night and day, day after day, purpose and motivation had found me. It was only when caring for Mom that I considered the possibility that maybe I wasn’t born to find my purpose. Maybe purpose had been with me all along and I just hadn’t noticed? Maybe I was born to hold Mom in my arms? Maybe all of us are born into this world to care when those we care about most need us most? Maybe, just maybe, purpose isn’t something we find as much as something that finds us?  Has it found you yet?

3 Responses leave one →
  1. Angela Puckett permalink
    February 23, 2012

    I absolutely agree!

  2. February 23, 2012

    Awesome sentiment 🙂 You’ve expressed what I’ve long felt, and now confirmed with my experience as an ‘unprepared caregiver’. Taking care of my mother who has Alzheimer’s has given me joys I never expected and purpose I’ve never questioned.
    Thank you for putting it all in such eloquent words.

  3. Dr. Zachary White permalink
    February 24, 2012

    Gracie, Thanks for the kind words and for sharing your caregiving experience.

Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS