Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Pogo Wisdom

By Bill Benda, MD, FACEP, FAAEM

2010 02 24 - 2014 - Washington DC - Capitol
Photo by thisisbossi via flickr, used under the Creative Commons License.

I had planned to write this blog submission as a reflection on my three days attending the Integrative Healthcare Symposium (IHS), which just concluded in New York City this past week. I was brimming with cutting editorial analysis about the keynote speakers, and the content, and the panels, and the vendors, and the commercial and political negotiations that take place in hallways, at dinner tables, and in bar booths. A curmudgeon’s commentary about the same faces, same speeches, same arguments and same deal making as last year and the year before that and undoubtedly returning to afflict us again next year.

But something changed for me during the flight back to California. Perhaps instigated by the fatigue, or the frustration, or the unexplained pain in my right hip. An insight, one might say, into the reality that there are, and never will be, any definitive answers, or solutions, or final agreements that address the issues that have been with us since the first caveperson argued with the second caveperson at the first Integrative Cave Conference (ICC) about who’s rock was going to best cure the physical and political ills of the cave community.

What I began to understand, and have begun to accept, on that long flight home is that we will never solve this healthcare conundrum. Ever. Not with legislation, or research, or drugs, or botanicals. In fact this whole process we have been battling over is not about therapies, or modalities, or titles. Its not about who gets the most money or power. It’s not about anything found in the conference brochure or the behind the scenes deal.

It’s about us.

Its about how we respond to the people and information put before us, and how they and it are the same as last year and the year before only because we am the same as last year and the year before. And how continuing to work within this system and attend these conferences can remain of interest and worth year after year only if we find the capacity to see things in a different light each time.

I must confess that one of my greatest teachers here has been our own Karen Howard, who I have watched work relentlessly for an outcome, and, when finding that it has slipped away through universal serendipity or someone else’s stupidity, has the capacity to hold the situation in wonder along with the inevitable frustration, and then let it go and move on to the next beautiful disaster. It really is a study in grace, and I hope to achieve even a fraction of it before I leave this field of endeavor.

We have met the enemy, and he is us . . .

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