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Like everyone else, I’m trying to keep up with events as they unfold. Seems everyone wants to point a finger at someone else; in reality, unless you’ve lived on a deserted island for the past twenty years, everyone is to blame.
We’ve hatched an entire generation on a diet of no-pain-only-gain.
The Dow Jones only goes up, housing prices only appreciate. People at the lower rungs of the economic spectrum are given credit (of a largely predatory type -credit cards) but no guidance about how to manage their finances. Credit can be a fine servant but makes for a terrible master.
All in the name of ‘living the life.’
I’m old enough to remember being mildly uncomfortable in the presence of greedy people. They used to be called ‘materialistic’ if I remember. Back at John Bastyr Naturopathic College in the 1970’s one of my fellow students was planning on going into the wilds of Idaho and doing an entire barter based practice. During breaks he would wax enthusiastic: “I’ll grow herbs in my own garden and when someone can’t pay, they’ll just give me a basket of vegetables or a chicken.”
Last I heard he was practicing in a white lab coat, in downtown Seattle, in a conventional medical office.
When product consumerism stops producing happiness, then it’s time to switch to its psychic counterpart. Feel depressed, worthless and ugly? No problem! We can teach you to think your way to happiness. But first we have to get you to buy into the idea that zits, belly fat and baldness actually do determine your true value in life.
Every once in a while we would get a patient in the clinic who seemed to think that we had the power to make them permanently content and happy. Carolyn, my curmudgeonly RN of twenty years, would look up me from the chart and say, “Now I don’t feel wonderful all the time, do you?”
And in truth I don’t.
Eventually I got to the point where I would explain to the patients that cures often represented the fact that a person could be returned to a level of wretchedness merely similar to that of others. From there on you were on your own.
Most great things are developed or uncovered by people who are mildly uncomfortable in their own bodies. Perhaps that discomfort is even mandatory. Expression is that great intangible that says to the Universe "I’m here." However unlike a pizza, expression can't be delivered to your doorstep. It often arrives during moments of great pain and suffering, and not for nothing, most creative people have had great times of pain and suffering. Sometimes it is the pain that moves us from the comfortable to the unknown; from the secure to the insecure. When we insulate ourselves from the painful consequence of our actions, when we plaster over our failures with 'feel good technologies' like drugs or mindless 'prosperity thinking' we strip away the spiritual basis of that pain and failure, the part of the cycle that gives us the benefits of 'lessons-learned."
We think 'age' is chronological and to a certain functional degree this is true. However age is also a mindset. What is the final mechanism that tells the tree in autumn that it is time to release the leaf? I’m sure that there are all sorts of hormones and cell factors involved, but the simple truth is that the leaf is no longer relevant. Winter is coming, it's time to close down and leaves on a tree trap ice and may bring the whole thing down. So it is time to go.
When are we released from the tree of life? I think it occurs when the Universe inside our self finally just gets bored to death. "You can't teach an old dog new tricks." As the saying goes.
Many pursuits, such as sailing or golf, are characterized by an 'awkward stage' which we could also describe and a sort of 'student mindset'. Kids spend days, months and years in this mode before they enter adulthood, but once they are done with schooling most of us actually become rather adverse to reentering awkward learning situations, perhaps out of insecurity. Nobody wants to look silly or incapable.
Yet this is precisely most creativity and expression occurs. It’s been said that the most common utterance upon the discovery of an important new fact or concept is not "Eureka!" [Greek heurēka I have found (it)] but rather "Now… that’s interesting…"
Sadly, I see more and more 'Old-Young People' these days."There is no fool like and old fool" goes the saying. That is true, but I think young fools are more menacing.
Finally, there is faith. I am also old enough to remember feeling mildly uncomfortable when people would bring up their religious beliefs in conversation. Not that I have anything against faith per se --I just think that it is a matter of personal choice and best kept out of most forms of public dialogue. I think one of the truly brilliant acts of the Founding Fathers was to acknowledge religious behavior and separate it from matters of state. That said I would like to be somewhat certain that my elected officials are not using their personal faith and morals to guide government policy.
Faith can do many great things. My Spanish grandmother was a loyal daughter of the Catholic Church and in her great simplicity there was a warmth and acceptance of life and all its foibles that belied years of hardship and suffering. Think this credit crisis is bad? She brought up a family during the 1936-39 Spanish Civil War, when the fighting literally rolled over her village not once, but three times. Concerned about food prices? She once walked seven miles with a piece of furniture on her head to trade it for a dozen potatoes.
Just before she passed away (well in her nineties) she visited the United States. One afternoon I grabbed my forehead after a stressful day.
"What’s wrong?" she asked.
"Oh, just a headache."
"What does that feel like?"
It was at that point I realized that she had never had a headache in her entire life.
Faith can do that.
Right 4 Your Soul
Thank you Peter, for sharing these words of wisdom.
All in life is relative..
Wise mom you had.. :-)) Sh dealt with life as it came, calmly taking care of her family in good and 'bad'days. She lived in the moment of NOW. Awesome!
Same as my mom.. Going for food on a bike with wooden wheels during WWII, getting foods for her sick brother.
I am curious if we will act so determined, wisely and calmly as our moms did.. Our capacity of accepting 'bad' times is not that well developped I am afraid..
Anyway... great blog Doc!! :-)
I needed health to maintained the practices in my faith, and faith put a restrain to excess, thus resulting in health.
Thanks for a thought provoking entry.
I've admired the manner and content of of your writing for awhile now, have stayed "cured" of multiple health problems for 11 years by following the data and spirit of your advice, and seemingly developed a few new habits and removed defects in the place of the old ones. The machine world can be cruel, sit back and enjoy the show.
very skilled to put it the way you did above in your blog, thanks for letting it out.
cutting and pasting this morsel into my personal calendar.
cures often represented the fact that a person could be returned to a level of wretchedness merely similar to that of others. From there on you were on your own.
travelled to peru and did ceremonies with a shaman to hear something like that
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