So, I find myself in an odd place—odd for me for I am almost always moving forward, creating and “doing.” For most of my life, I have relied heavily on my sports and competitive tennis training to push through physical and psychological pain to “make it happen” on the court, in the classroom, and ultimately in my publishing career. Recently, I am challenged by my lack of passion and strength and “juice” to forge ahead with my vision for compassionate care and healing in hospitals, cancer centers, addiction clinics and pain management centers … for I am not sure what ahead is. I am bruised and battered, tired and “lost.”
Over the years, I have found medicine and healthcare to be indifferent to whole patient care. Doctors are not taught to ask patients where they draw their strength and courage from. They are not trained to hold patients hands, remember their spouses names or ask “How are you doing today?” The science and technology of medicine reign supreme, as do insurance and pharma companies. What a battle I have been facing, what a boulder up the hill, what a frustrating, and at times, incredulous place to be. Doctors and institutions say they want their patients to heal, but do not give them the tools to do so. Wasn’t it Hippocrates that said the job of the physician is to teach the patient how to heal themselves?
“Natural forces within us are the true healers of disease.” Hippocrates
“Preventive medicine isn’t part of a physician’s everyday routine, which is spent dispensing drugs and performing surgery.” Deepak Chopra
“The aim of medicine is to prevent disease and prolong life; the ideal of medicine is to eliminate the need of a physician.” William J. Mayo
“To create better physicians, send med students to art school.” Malcolm Gladwell
Of course I love Malcolm Gladwell’s thoughts. Less science more art.
Back to this place of being lost … I am beginning to realize just how magnificent this place of confusion and frustration can be. This place of not knowing, of not moving forward or backward, of just being “lost.” This is the ultimate in mindfulness!
A dear friend of mine reminded me of David Wagoner’s poem by the same name.
“Patricia,” Colleen suggested, “if you have no answers right now, if you feel lost, stand still! The trees ahead are not lost. Ask for their help. The forest knows. Nothing brilliant ever comes from someone who has NOT been lost.”
David Wagoner, Poet Emeritus from the Northwest, studied with the Native American Indians and often shared their wisdom through his poetry. I share his most famous poem with you now:
Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.
If you ever find yourself lost, stand still. The Forest knows where you are.