“Benign and in the bucket”. That seems to be the rally cry of Western medical providers who vow to treat what ails us. Whether it hurts, doesn’t work, or is cancerous, you fix it by taking it out and throwing it away. The problem is, that doesn’t always work. What do we do with the stuff that can’t easily be exorcised?
As a young teenager, I got to watch my dad, a surgeon, operate on a man’s heart. Sure, I was intrigued by the mechanics of the operation and was awed to discover what the inside of a human body looks like. I was fascinated by the vivid color and rolling pulse of a living heart. But what really intrigued me were the emotional aspects of that experience. I had stood by my dad as he greeted the patient before the procedure. I had sensed the man’s fear as I scripted an internal dialogue that might be going on inside his head. Did he feel vulnerable? Was he scared? Did he wonder if he would die? Was he running a movie in his head that spanned the years and events of his life? Was he hopeful? Regretful? My mind raced with questions.
During the procedure, I stood at the man’s head, which was draped off to separate it from the rest of his body. My attention jumped back and forth between the sterile and technical activity that was happening on the surgical side of the drape and the psycho-social-emotional side that was housed in his brain, on my side of the drape. I realized that long after his surgical wounds closed, this man’s heart, mind, and body would keep on healing. After all, it’s impossible for any of us to separate the heart from the mind.
Across the span of his career, my father literally held many hearts in his hands in order to fix them. I decided to stay on the head side of the equation and to heal people’s hearts in a different way. I still want to touch as many hearts and minds as I possibly can, because I’m happiest when I’m helping. And if you follow your heart, you can’t go wrong.