Some Assembly Required

I came home one day and saw my son in his room, busy tinkering on something. He had our tool box open on the floor. Was he working on a new project, like the time machine? Or transmogrifier gun? Or perhaps the shrink ray gizmo? No. He was just assembling his newly bought Nerf toy gun.

Everything that we purchase nowadays has some kind of assembly required. From furnitures, to gadgets, to toys. Next time, even our pets will need assembly. Pet robots, that is!

I bought my first furnitures from IKEA, 19 years ago. Like everything else from this store, it required some assembly. I am proud to say that I assembled my table and my single-size bed on my own. Without help. Yes, they may be crooked a little bit, but hey, they were functional. The table still sits in our home, and being used. The single-size bed, I gave away a long time ago, after I got married.446f87299cecabd15e216efd4bdf3f56_254920-700x

The key to these some assembly required things, is following the instructions that accompany them. It may be something like this: 1. Set up part A parallel to part B. (What is parallel again?) 2. Insert tab C to slot C. (But it does not fit!) 3. Connect fixture D to proximal end of slab D. (Which of these 5 types of screws provided would I use?) 4. Find piece E. (Find piece E! It’s missing!)

Many times though, we forego of the instructions and assemble them on our own instincts, until we learn that we are doing it wrong. I know, I have done that, as I have to disassemble something almost halfway, when it did not fit right. Of course the instructions was right there all along, I just have to read it.

Not too long ago, we bought a bookcase that needed some assembly. My son (who is 10 years old) and I worked hand-in-hand to put it together. In fact, I let him do most of the work. I even let him use my battery-powered screw driver which was a Father’s Day gift from my wife a few years back. It surely gave us some father-and-son time. Though most of it, we were arguing about the instructions.

Like many things, our relationships are some assembly required. Especially our relationship with our spouse and our children. But the instructions are not exact nor universal. They are more like recommendations rather than a command. It is up to us to figure it out and work it out. There may be trial and error at times. But the important thing is to assemble it up.

urban-barn-no-assembly-required-1

I am fully aware that it takes time and effort to assemble anything. Whether it is a 3-piece furniture like a bench, or 300-piece contraption, like a children’s play set. And I know it will be much easier for us if it comes already assembled. But that’s not the case with our relationships. It does not come pre-fabricated nor assembled. It needs our time and effort to put it up properly.

Now what’s our next project? What will my daughter and I assemble? A grand piano?

For all the fathers out there, may we all have a meaningful Father’s Day.

(*photos from the net)

Retiree’s Regrets

Few nights ago, our group had dinner with one of our former partners who retired a couple of years ago. He appeared healthy and fit than ever and he sounded like he was really enjoying the retiree’s life. After being in practice for over 30 years, he is content for what he had accomplished. When we asked him for some advice, he stated that he had only one regret: that he did not build better and deeper relationships. More meaningful relationship not just with patients, but with partners, other doctors, co-workers, employees and others.

Relationship. This got me thinking. How profound is that advice. Very true, that in our busyness, we don’t really take time to know people that we work with. We don’t know them enough nor we do care enough to know them. We are driven by our productivity, our deadlines, and accomplishing our jobs, that we have no time to build relationships with people.

I don’t think anybody at the end of their career would say, I wish I could have work more days in the office, or submitted one more project on time. Nobody in their deathbed would say, I wish I could have earned another hundred dollars, or another million for that matter. Our regrets would be something much deeper than these. When we are in our deathbed, our 401K, our financial portfolio and even our estate does not mean anything. It will be the relationships we establish with people, that will be treasured.

definitely not my estate

And it is not just the relationship with people at work that is suffering with our busy lives. Even the relationships that really matter, the one we have at home. Many times we forget why we work, and that is to provide for our family. Work is the ‘means’ to support the ‘end’ – our family. But sometimes the ‘means’ becomes the ‘end’, and the supposed ‘end’ (our family), becomes “the end.” How many families have broken because of too much work? Somehow our priorities are mixed up.

I know I will never be the best doctor in the world. I may never be the best doctor in our group. I may not even be the best doctor in our home (who knows if any of my kids will become a doctor someday). But I can be the best husband to my wife, and the best father to my children. And that is what I will strive to be.

I am thankful for the advice of an old and wise doctor. I wish at the end of my career, I will not have the same regrets that he had. Maybe mine would be: I wish I could have played more golf. But I don’t even know how to play golf!