By Lise Alschuler, ND, FABNO
Vice President, Quality and Education, Emerson Ecologics
Photo by norwichnut via flickr, used under the Creative Commons License.
A very fit and clear-eyed gentleman introduced himself to me at the recent Integrative Healthcare Symposium. He appeared to be in his late 60’s or early 70’s. He was of medium build and thin. He was wearing a bright yellow sweater that fit tightly over what appeared to be a toned chest. He was wearing running shoes which cushioned his energetic stride as he walked toward me.
He began the conversation with questions. He reached into his conference bag and pulled out a sample bottle. He proceeded to ask me about its particular virtues. I gave him my best explanation. He appreciatively nodded his understanding and followed this with more questions. He listened patiently and appeared to appreciate my explanations. He then commented about his long-standing way of living – relying on whole foods and daily exercise as the mainstays.
He reached back into his bag and pulled out a worn looking printed cardboard.He handed this to me and I read the cover of a book that he had authored in the 70’s about healthy living. Abram Hoffer had written the foreword and was his friend, this gentleman sadly told me as he lamented his death. He then pulled out a magazine which featured a write-up of his next book - yet to be published – on cholesterol. He explained his central thesis about the medical myths related to cholesterol with fervor.
Meanwhile, I had been doing some calculations and I finally had to ask. “How old are you, if you don’t mind my asking?” “I don’t mind. I am 85 years old.” All of sudden, I realized that I was talking to the real thing. Here was an outstanding specimen of the human life form, who was, in addition, passionate to his very core about natural health, and who had stayed the course over decades of change and transformation in the natural healthcare industry and in medicine.
I had, admittedly, found myself somewhat bemused by him at first. Now, I was seriously and, gratefully, humbled. I realized, as I listened to this humble and clearly fervent elder, that I still have so very much to learn.Furthermore, most of what I have left to learn is likely very simple – those things which form the foundations of our health – such as diet, passionate living, movement.
It is, I reflected, quite easy to become engrossed in the myriad of details attendant to the progress of medicine. While valuable, and, in fact, essential to safe and effective practice, modern understandings and therapeutic rationalizations do carry the danger of distracting us from the foundations of health. Untethered, we can become adrift amidst our bits of information. I think was somewhat adrift. It took a spry 85 year old in a neon yellow sweater to help me touch back down again. As our conversation concluded, I wished him well and thanked him for his contributions and inspirations.
Watching his lively figure stride away, I smiled and felt a little lighter on my grounded feet too.
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