Do What You Can

NaBloPoMo 2020 – Today’s Lesson

I thank my friend for re-introducing me to Dax Shepard’s podcast, Armchair Expert.  He conducts long form interviews with people who dig into important topics, but with some lightheartednesss. 

Jon Bon Jovi appeared on Episode 251 this fall.  I’m reminded why I so admire this pop culture icon, philanthropist, and all around good human.  From 44:24 they discuss his new album, 2020.  As a rock star also known for his strong give-back ethos, he discusses the risk he takes by making a topical album in a year of remarkable political turmoil.  He describes his perspective as a witness to history with an opinion, but without taking sides.  He addresses gun violence from the perspective of how it feels for those affected, without stepping in the fray of “guns are bad” or “they’re coming for our guns.”  He acknowledges the reality of white privilege, without trying to shaming anyone for it.  He recognizes how simply trying to open a conversation may alienate some.  He owns his positions and convictions, and earnestly invites discourse from any other perspective.  This is what I admire and aspire to myself—to engage by coming alongside rather than coming at.

Do What You Can” is my new favorite rock anthem.  It’s an uplifting balm for all we’re going through, and reminds us that we can be okay, if we stick together: 

Although I’ll keep my social distance
What this world needs is a hug
Until we find the vaccination
There’s no substitute for love
So love yourself and love your family
Love your neighbor and your friend
Ain’t it time we loved the stranger
They’re just a friend you ain’t met yet

What risks are we each willing to take, to make our world better?

Energy, Pheromones, and Grief

NaBloPoMo 2020 —  Today’s Lesson

Whoa Nellie, this week kinda crushed me.  Thank goodness for weekends—time to slow down, take a breath, and recharge.

I have a theory about Zoom fatigue; wondering if it resonates with anyone?  Maybe someone has some physical evidence to share?  It’s about quantum energy and our olfactory senses.

I actually really love Zoom.  After years of running webinars, I’m used to inhabiting a little box next to a PowerPoint, and I love seeing family, friends and colleagues from all across the country and around the world, all at the same time.  And all the better if we’re learning or communing around core values and shared goals!  With good internet we get real time visual and audio cues, and even see bits of each other’s natural habitats.  So what’s missing feels less concrete, harder to describe.

A couple friends and I posit that it’s something around energy.  A resonance ensues when people gather, negotiated in the quantum space, intangible yet palpable.  In harmonic physical presence we find ourselves synergistically lifted, nourished, and bonded.  I think pheromones must also play a role.  We fancy ourselves so evolved, but our primitive brains still drive us, or at least have a hand on the wheel.  When we cannot connect by vibe and smell, I bet we lose more than we know—and it hurts.

I have no evidence for these claims, and it doesn’t really matter if I’m right.  I think we’re all feeling the disconnect more intensely now, eight months into an indefinite and now worsening pandemic. It helps to acknowledge the sadness, the grief.  

I understand why so many plan to gather for the holidays.  Maybe it’s an impossible balance.  I wonder what we’ll regret most in the end?

What a Privilege

NaBloPoMo 2020 – Today’s Lesson

I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it:  People are suffering.  Not everybody, but many, and many pretty badly.  A prolonged global pandemic, unprecedented political polarization, escalating agitation for social justice—any one of these would be enough to push us over the edges of our sanity, and yet here we are, surviving all three and more.

I know it’s a challenging day when I’ve handled three phone calls before getting out of the car at work in the morning, and in the afternoon I think Hallelujah and give joyful thanks for one patient’s globally negative Review of Systems and another’s 95% oxygen saturation.  But this is also the most fulfilling day.  I did good work today.

Like most primary care doctors, my message volume has increased by about 30-50% in recent months. Complex questions and issues require time and patience to think and talk through. Many cannot be readily answered or solved, and the uncertainty calls out all of our anxieties and defenses, insecurities and grievances. Every patient experiences this historic moment in a unique and acute way. As the storm rolls over the neighborhood, I see it land on each doorstep, knowing what’s already in the house—how the furniture is arranged, what’s in the closets, maybe even the state of the foundation. I am allowed inside, invited to inspect and advise.

What an amazing privilege to be a physician in this moment, to witness, and to help.  This is absolutely what I signed up for, what I’m called to, and what I trained for.  I promise to do my best, and we will get through it together.