“Wow!” The child’s voice resonated from the furthest recess throughout the theater – a single word, yet heard by all. The orchestra had just finished a beautiful performance and before the audience could erupt into applause, the small voice, in all its innocence, expressed best what everyone felt – their souls had been touched. The Conductor heard it, too, moving him to tears. He expected an enthusiastic applause, maybe a standing ovation, or even a request for an encore but a heartfelt exclamation like this from a child, never! That one word, spoken spontaneously, reverently, is what all musicians live for – to have their music move someone so powerfully, so deeply, that their very soul cries out “Wow!”
He determined to find that voice, that singular person. He wanted to express his thankfulness for bringing him joy, a joy he had forgotten. After weeks of searching, he succeeded. It belonged to an eight year- old boy. This was not just any boy, though. He was severely autistic and, incredibly, non-verbal. His parents had never heard him utter a word until that moment! The Conductor was speechless, tears welling in his eyes once again, as the special uniqueness of that moment became more real. It confirmed for him that his work had meaning and purpose in a way he had not fully understood.
I thought about my own “Wow!” moments - the births of my children; the multi-hued stripes of a sunset or sunrise over the ocean; majestic snow-peaked mountains; the dance of sunlight off a clear, tumbling mountain stream canopied by a brilliant tapestry of fall colors, the beauty of a rainbow trout. When was your last “Wow!” moment? The time you cried out in wonder and awe at something so beautiful, so moving you could not help it. The humanness that makes you the caring, compassionate person you are becomes more real, more personal in those most special of moments. When it happens, the inner child, long forgotten during the years of training, work, and life’s busyness, can come alive again. Take time to recognize those moments for what they are, a gift, an intimate reminder that there is so much more to life than medicine.
Andy Lamb, MD