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Fixin' Healthcare

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Quest

Every day, in many ways, people around the world are urged to lead better lives. What that means and how to achieve it vary depending upon who is doing the urging and the interpretation by those being urged. As confusing as the situation appears, people are filled with the desire to lead better lives. But, try hard as they may, life keeps getting in their way. It snows or rains, it is too hot or cold, alarm clocks don't always function, automobiles malfunction, accidents happen, someone doesn't show up at the designated time or place, relatives and friends become ill or grow old or die, they are not feeling well or have no energy or are too tired, there are too many demands or there isn't enough time in the day, and the list goes on.

Modern life is a marvel but it can be quite daunting. Society consists of layer upon layer of human associations and multiple cultures, plus subcultures, existing side by side. Shrimp boat captains, truck drivers, and physicians may pass in close proximity but their daily lives are different. The cracks and crevices of life are filled with obligations, commitments, desires, hopes, anxieties, and fears. Everyone at some time or another is bewildered by the pressures and complexity of life. To seek the simple life might be a reasonable solution or an illusion. One can wonder about the influence upon Henry David Thoreau in his isolation at Walden Pond when he observed that the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation (Walden, 1854).

There is more to know about life than any individual can fully comprehend. Clarity and predictability would be comforting but change is inevitable and often unpredictable, confusing, and discouraging. Without sufficient personal experience and detailed knowledge to cope with every situation in life, people rely upon shared values to reach beyond the unknown, the challenges, hardships, disappointments, and losses. People seek understanding, security, love, good health, fulfillment, and meaning. Joy and happiness are difficult to describe but necessary to share and it is best not to suffer sadness alone.

Society organizes people into groups but the life of each person is as unique to them as fingerprints. Everybody has a story but how many others are interested in their story? Moreover, do they think anyone is interested in their story? Even the self-possessed have doubts about their place in the world. Belonging to a group provides common bond and determines much about lifestyle but overstates homogeneity. Groups provide an identity but within groups individuals strive for their own identity. The process determines lifestyle, which is always a work in progress.

The search for answers to the problems of life is constant and many answers are found. Each answer is pertinent in one way or another but they may not be a solution for the problem at hand. Solutions to the complex problems of life are elusive and require understanding of both the problems and the answers. Answers can easily become problems and there may be difficulty distinguishing one from the other. Careful thought and meaningful questions are often in shorter supply than quick answers.

Knowing facts does not assure understanding. Insight and understanding depend upon experience, contemplation, perspective, values, beliefs, and spiritual faith. These aspects of life are shaped by family, culture, community, education, and religion. This is a plane of endeavor that touches upon the meaning of life and depends upon focus, discipline, purpose, and ethical decision-making. There the search for understanding, security, love, good health, fulfillment, meaning, joy, and happiness takes place.

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