Reflection – Living with Uncertainty

by: Evangeline Andarsio, MD, RISHI Director

NATIVE AMERICAN PERSPECTIVE

We have been telling the people that this is the Eleventh Hour

Now we must go back and tell the people that this is the Hour

And there are things to be considered:

Where are you living?

What are you doing?

Are you in right relation?

Where is your water?

Know your garden.

It is time to speak your truth.

Create your community.

Be good to each other.

And do not look outside yourself for the leader…

This could be a good time!

There is a river flowing now very fast.

It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid,

They will try to hold on to the shore.

They will feel they are being torn apart and they will suffer greatly.

Know the river has its destination.

The Elders say we must let go of the shore, and push off and into the river, keep our eyes open, and our head above the water.

See who is there with you and Celebrate.

At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally.

Least of all, ourselves.

For the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt.

The time of the lone wolf is over.

Gather yourselves!

Banish the word “struggle” from your attitude and your vocabulary.

All that you do now must be done in a sacred manner

And in celebration.

“We are the ones we have been waiting for…”

The Elders, Hopi Nation, Oraibi, Arizona

REFLECTION:

This Native American perspective, written by the Elders of the Hopi Nation, speaks to me of living life with uncertainty. We face this COVID-19 health crisis awaiting the surge of very ill patients, hoping, and for many praying, that the surge will not be as powerful and pervasive as predicted. We face this uncertainty hoping that we in the front line of care, as well as our families, will stay safe and healthy. Besides this, we are challenged, wondering if there will be enough PPEs, ventilators, ICU beds and workforce to deal with the suffering.

How do we face this uncertainty? The situation is paradoxical because one of the key methods of dealing with uncertainty comes from being in the present moment, focusing on the task at hand. Yet the paradox is that we must prepare for the potential of all possibilities coming our way. Living in the paradox, the both/and, is what we are called to do at this time. As we prepare for the future based on the COVID-19 models’ predicted surge, we acknowledge the fear and anxiety that we experience. Nevertheless, we need to realize that this preparation can also alleviate these real and raw human feelings. This actual process of planning and preparing can bring us calm and determination to meet this unknown. Thus, we must live in both moments.

It is during this time of crisis and uncertainty that we draw upon our “calling” as clinicians and healers. We draw upon the knowledge of the Elders that this is our time, what we were born to do. We draw upon our own inner resources to be leaders. Yet, now more than ever, to live with uncertainty, we draw upon our community of clinicians to be there for each other…”The time of the lone wolf is over.” We must draw upon our courage, strength, passion and grace to be present in the midst of this unprecedented time in medicine.

Yes, there are self-care tools of resilience that we can utilize such as mindfulness, meditation, sleep, exercise, nutrition, and grit; however, the Elders were very wise: this is the time we are meant to be in the suffering of those that will die without family or friends with them. This is the time, we are called to accompany those that need us most with as much kindness, compassion, caring and presence as possible…“in a sacred manner.” And, I trust we will… for “We are the ones we have been waiting for….”

© Wright State Physicians © Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine © Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D., © Evangeline Andarsio, M.D.