I believe that medicine’s potential is much more than the version we see in the world today. A doctor should be an educator with the goal of bringing patients to a place of deeper understanding of who they are in the world. To me, medicine is ultimately about self-empowerment through self-knowledge and growth.
I hope your week has been a good one. Remember the 1966 classic Clint Eastwood Western? Well, let’s revisit it for just a minute, with a twist, as we glance around the last days of summer 2020, the year that was, and continues to be, unlike any other.
County Report. Covid incidence in the county continues to be good news. There were 14 new cases recorded this week in the Berkshires. That’s 2 per day on average for an area with a population of 125,000. The smoldering continues. New cases have been generally related to travel. It’s very interesting that new cases don’t seem to be able to start a flame. I think there is a lot more immunity than has been recorded. What’s certain is that our distancing, our focus on outdoors, our mask wearing and our washing are important!
Flu Season could be different from ever before. More good news here. In the Southern Hemisphere the peak season for Influenza is April through July. Yesterday a government report listed only 51 positive flu tests out of more than 83,000 people tested in Australia, Chile and South Africa, for a positivity rate of 0.06%. In contrast, during April through July in the years 2017 to 2019, nearly 14%, or 24,000 out of 178,000 people, tested positive for flu in those three countries. C’mon y’all! That’s dizzying news. I’ll let you ponder that for a while. I’ll join you. Distancing, etc at work again? It’s part of it, for sure.
Fires out West. You probably have noticed the haze in the sky. Smoke covers the country; carbon monoxide wafting over us all. Not what we want right now. Pollution and COVID mortality have a link. Godspeed to the firefighters. Prayers to the displaced and deceased.
Summer’s End. The season of chilly mornings and cold evenings has started. The question comes into clear focus: What is going to happen when all this safe outdoor activity becomes intolerable? The glory days of outdoor dining are coming to an end.
Get an outdoor heater and take it one day at a time, I suppose.
Transitions are challenging. It’s difficult to face the end of the summer every year. The change of the season demands a lot from us as a generality. More below. This year the demand is extra, of course.
The Basics are beautiful. This year we have been given the time to pause. Self-analysisand re-evaluation come without effort during these times. It’s important when re-evaluating to remember the basics. In medical school my favorite lectures and articles were about re-grounding and re-grouping in the essence of the topic at hand. It is always time well spent when working on your foundation.
Shift gears with me for a second…
Let’s take the topic of the basics and visit our most basic human experience of a day. Let’s suspend all we do with our day in our modern life and see it in its essence. Slow your reading pace down for this part. Experience the essence of the day as you read.
The primal, essential part of daytime is… awakening and moving into the light of the sun. Feel the warmth of the sun, the warm air on your skin.
Our senses are enlivened. All life is quickened in the light of the day. We move about and experience all the things accessible to us through our senses.
The earth is our discovery in the light of the day. We quest to learn and categorize the knowledge we acquire in the light and the warmth, in our enlivened senses aided by our movements.
The light fades and the warmth recedes. A coolness descends; the desire and the ability to move about greatly lessens. There is stillness; and in the distance something comes in to view that was not there before.
The whole world of the stars is now present; a new quiet world emerges in the coolness and the stillness. Consciousness leaves the immediate world of sense. Consciousness leaves the earth. Our focus is on the Cosmos. We have a much broader view.
We digest all that we have taken in during the day-time. Reflection helps us see how it all fits in together. We visit our purpose and goals. We can set our trajectory for the next day(s).
All together now
This is who we are. Two sides: day and night. Wake and Sleep. Earth and Cosmos. And the precise and measured oscillation between the two.
The rhythm between day and night, summer and winter, above and below is the critical piece that sews them together, that takes the differences and makes them one whole. All opposites are one in the rhythm that plays out over time and space.
To be the force that unifies the opposites is demanding. Like we said above the transition between the polarities is challenging. The transition between the light filled summer and the frost of the winter requires courage. This year more than ever. We have the demand to connect to the inner source of light and warmth.
The course of our life follows the same script: the summer of our younger years and winter of our later years. Movement and great regeneration capacity without much experiencial knowledge on one side– and, on the other, stillness and minimal regeneration but great thinking and emotional capacity linked to our vast experiences. But somehow our existence is every one of our years lived all together!
And the polarities live in our body where we have the summer and winter, the day and the night in us at once. We have the warmth and movement in our blood which is built up by the furnace of our digestion and heats our muscles, cells turning over continuously — in opposition we have the stillness and coolness in our nerves and brain, which minimally interact with the blood and have very little regenerative capacity.
The heart’s rhythmic beats match the breath in a precise ratio and balance and tune the whole. It connects the above and below as it contracts and expands. It’s the source of our courage and our path to inclusion and cohesion!
The basics can teach us a lot!
All polarities are together in the whole.
Re-evaluating and self-analyzing during this period, this unprecedented time asks us to visit the basics of who we are. We are called to establish a balance between our day and our night. Collecting and ordering of sensory data is best balanced with the calm and stillness. We need our smarts and our intuition both.
You’re the best! You have these huge polarities inside you in the image of the world and the very day and in which you live!
Every part of you is welcome and celebrated, your strengths and your weaknesses, your up and your down, your left and your right. Include and love every aspect. It just might be the lesson we are looking for.