“Still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.”~Paul Simon
I had a stark reminder recently of the importance of paying attention. Twice. I pulled up at the light in the early morning twilight. Before making a right turn on a red light, I carefully checked out the oncoming traffic to see if it was safe to make the turn. And almost hit a pedestrian who appeared in front of the car next to me. I was startled, he was safe, and I went on my way. I then did exactly the same thing 2 days later. The second guy was kind enough to tell me he liked my car! The pedestrians apparently were used to being dissed, but I realized I needed to be more mindful of my surroundings.
How is your peripheral vision? Do you beyond what is put right in front of you? What is distracting you from seeing more than the obvious? There is a youtube video called the selective awareness test. You are instructed to watch a video and to pay attention to the number of times a basketball is passed between a group of players. At the end of the video ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJG698U2Mvo ) you are asked a question, and surprisingly most people cannot answer it! If you have a few seconds (literally) try it sometime.
This month is breast cancer awareness month, and there are many interesting activities designed to make us think about our health, reminding us of the importance of early diagnosis for successful treatment. Of course, this reminder applies to many other health issues; in fact I can’t imagine a single issue in which it doesn’t apply! But since we are not all experts in the signs and symptoms of a wide variety of diseases, and we don’t wish to become hypochondriacs, the message is to pay attention to your body. Has anything changed recently? Do you have any nagging health issue that won’t clear up? Is there any symptom that you are ignoring or denying, placing the blame on ‘stress’ or bad habits, and not getting it checked out? In the Clarendon College family there have been 2 deaths in the past few weeks of men who were in the prime of their life – approaching that age when the kids are growing up and getting ready to leave home. That age when you are still young enough to see your life stretching out ahead of you. And then they were gone.
I am a firm believer in the art of self-healing. The problem with self-healing is that it is not easily prescribed or mapped out. We can see the evidence of its results, but it is not so clear how the person achieved it. As long ago as Florence Nightingale, she wrote that the purpose of the nurse is to place the patient in the best condition for nature to take its course and do the healing. You’d be surprised to know that when it comes to many diseases (Ebola comes to mind), the successful treatments do exactly what Florence proposed. Provide the right environment, the best supportive care, and let your own immune system get to work.
I am also a firm believer that healing takes place when the person believes it will happen. If I believe in my doctor or healthcare provider, and I trust that he/she knows what they are doing, then the pill will work. Clinical trials show that in some disease processes, placebos (pills which do not contain any medicine) may be as effective as the drug being tested. And this happens even when the patient knows they are getting a placebo. So what is it that triggers the effect? Is it the ritualistic act of being given something? Is it the relationship between the patient and the healthcare provider?
Our minds are so powerful, yet we don’t even begin to understand how they work. We focus on the everyday, the mundane, and don’t begin to think about the wonderful things we are capable of. We have yet to truly unleash that power.
In addition to paying attention to your own body, I hope you are paying attention to the health of those around you. Sometimes it is only when another person points something out that you become aware of it. I remember my first pregnancy, and the feeling of pushing myself to make it through the day. My co-workers would be concerned, telling me how tired I looked, was I taking my vitamins? I started to wear makeup, and got so much positive feedback that my energy level actually increased as a result! Part of being human is making connections and being connected. My co-workers were my first friends in this country; they fed me, and made me stop to take a break in my busy shift.
My father-in-law had a wicked sense of humor. In his waning years he still tried to be the man of the house, even though he had suffered a stroke, and was dependent on the people around him for his care. One morning his son told him Good Morning, and asked him how he was feeling. He gave his son a look, and muttered: “You mussee think seh mi hearty!” (The closest translation would be: Do I look like I’m healthy?) Sometimes all we need is acknowledgment of what we are going through, some empathy, a recognition that our road is not easy. Thanks to facebook, we can now share our daily struggles with a broader world, can reach out for encouragement and inspirational words. As humans, we can take a moment to offer those words, give a joke, some advice, make contact with that wider audience.
This Friday morning I hope you are paying attention to things that are outside of your immediate line of vision, listening to the clues and hints of things around you. They just might save your life! Have a wonderful weekend Family!