Before I move forward, indulge me. Allow me to stay in a state of rest which my mind needs, body wants and soul starves. May I share something that stayed with me while I was spinning on the lazy Susan as a moment of curiosity to others.
I am a contemplative curio piece covered in dust, with a broken guard, an on/off switch stuck in up, batteries not included.
The words of a gifted voice that follow feel like a spring breeze, change and rebirth, another reinvention, no leaves to rustle, simply fresh air.
Quietly, what disappointed me most so far in my health care literacy education has been the disregard for history, the lack of etiquette, the lack of inclusion of those with no voice. The thank you which I did receive from the remarkable beaurocrats, and yes they are remarkable and committed, but from no one else.
The stench of my anger and frustration is the new napalm.
“Stop and smell the roses”. It’s good for your health.
Instead of running forward, stay in the moment, learn from the history and hear the stories. The power of the narrative. The whisper.
I stumbled upon this as I explored what I didn’t know enough about before I prepared for “good” and “bad” without the ego, a foreign language to the pharmaceutical companies and the patient groups they subsdize.
My voice is not always patient and I am not always a patient.
The ethics, the ethicists to whom I would like to meet and talk, but found to be seldom included in policy discussion and development.
I await their voice, to guide me down the pathway of exploring what I continue to explore because Breaking Bad, Nurse Jackie, Homeland and United States of Tara binge watching and Beyoncé listening send me on trances of diversions and connectivity to voices that resonate with me, but as grief must turn to closure for me to live more, I am hungry for some self-awareness and personal growth, and the tools and resources I needed and sought to guide me up that steep road are lacking on the menu of choices.
Ethics, ethicists, leave me a trail of bread crumbs so you can feed me as I find you.
Here is my smoke signal, a wistful voice of a face lost in the crowd by Nancy J. Moules
A Whispered Story
NANCY J. MOULES
She started off differently than I expected.
With a story. (And yet, why should that surprise me, lover of stories? Maybe because somehow I forgot that stories lie here in this topic of ethics.)
She started with a story.
A story that called us in. And there was this quietness that permeated the room, the night. Almost a reverence that I recall in church as a young child, a call, not an expectation (I once asked my dad, a minister, why we had to whisper in church and he said, “We don’t”). Yet … somehow, despite permission to do otherwise, there was a call to speak softly, reverently, respectfully … because … why?
Because something was important, was to be honored. Something was worthy of respect.
Did you notice our voices became quiet and we had to “speak up” to be heard?
In my moments of most reverent and sacred conversations, I notice that kind of quietness, softening, stilling. It is palpable; embodied, Merleau-Ponty might suggest.
And in our class-that quietness as our voices simultaneously and curiously softened- something remarkable happened …
More voices emerged, voices that had not been heard before, and there in the middle of all that, another layer was added.
An asking of a question; a waiting for response … And in that deliberately and exquisitely crafted pause lay everything. Ethics, moments, memories, reflections, questions, breathlessness, reverence.
I waited, perhaps somewhat anxiously, for the pause to end, guessing and second-guessing what everyone else thought, feeling responsible for this class that I bear the obligation toward.
And in that waiting, ethics landed-its huge berth filling, talking over, consuming …
Yet calling, as Caputo suggests the young child on the beach, lost, calls for something and we are obligated to answer. Calling …
Calling Amie to talk about a last heartbeat in such a way that her description took my breath away; Christine to question hope and her love of it, in such a way that made me almost even love hope more; Karen to think of moments of community and decision and obligation with such passion and experience and expertise and artistry; Blaine to ponder Dasein and Being and money and larger and smaller commitments in a witty articulation that almost belies the softness of his heart; Rich to enter into intentionality, politics, drives, and yet, fundamentally, losses; Violet to move into her question of learning and knowing; Lorraine to move back and forth between living and dying and that moment and to find herself as a young woman compassionately and passionately drawn to that moment; Lisa, in her thoughtful, kind-ful, and mind-ful manner to speak of pieceing and peace-ing; Stacey to quietly smile, nod, bring it in, respectfully making space for these new ideas; Tanya to passionately bring it all consistently back to practicing living moments of birth, and choice, and decisions, and questions; Julian to remind us that it matters and that it is never that simple-as he takes the taken-for-granted and infuses it with heart and rhythm and mindfulness; Ruth to bring it to children and to lean into the questions with the passion and perseverance I have come to understand infuse her practice and life; Eileen to offer the gracious wide-eyed wonder and intelligence that seeps from her very presence …
Calling us all to … what?
To an Ethics of obligations of everyday practices, of bearers of names, and filler of pauses.
Ethics cannot be empty words-ethics is a pause to wonder, to question, to step back, to notice.
And this teacher, Dr. Paton; this nurse, B. Paton, RN, PhD; this woman, Brenda, my colleague, my friend, my sister in many ways, did that through her being open to the angst that the silence brought, through a willingness to let it sit, through a knowingness that ethics are Always, and necessarily, inhabited by silence.
This is what I saw.
This is my participant observation.
(Listening to the Whispers: Re-thinking Ethics in Healthcare, edited by Christine Sorrell Dinkins and Jeanne Merkle Sorrell. University of Wisconsin Press, 2006.)