Monday, August 14, 2017

Why Do I Care If Others are Healthy?

The question came last Saturday morning at the Hyatt Regency in Long Beach. It was at the annual HEAL Zone Resident and Youth Leaders event, which brought together community leaders from around Southern California to discuss strategies to get people to practice "healthy eating, active living."

Sounds pretty purposeful huh? Little did I know how purposeful. It took a specific question to get me there.

During part of the 
proceedings, there came the routine question about our personal reason for attending the conference. Hmmm. Why do I do so much work so that people are healthier in my community?

That made me think of how much time I spend as a volunteer to support other people. I mean on the surface, it didn't really make too much sense. Here I am, a person still looking for real-time work but giving my time and energy for the health of others.

The question made me think of some pretty quick surface answers: so my community is happier, so my community living a better life.

The question made me also think that there must be some deeper and primal reason that existed way below the surface. 

The question made me think, actually, about this one movie called "Hear My Song."

In this film, an English man travels to Ireland to locate a famous singer who had gone underground for tax purposes. The whole movie, the man was trying to find this singer so he could ask him to return to England again. During one intense climactic scene, the English man - who wasn't trusted by those who guarded the singer - was pushed towards a steep cliff and was held by his feet, dangling there head facing down. As he dangled there so close to death, the singer had a chance to finally ask his stalker: "why are you doing this?"

The answers came like the peeling of an onion, one layer at a time.

"I'm doing it for your singing career." (Bullshit.)

"I'm doing for the people!" (Bullshit.)

"I'm doing it for the woman I love. I'm doing it for Nancy." (Bingo)

In this surrender to the deeper truth, the man was brought up from his dangling predicament and thrown onto a nearby lawn, where he laid there in a blissed out state that can only come from the reflection of the deepest truth. 

 So my answers came without me having to be dangling high above the Cliffs of Moher:

"I'm doing it for the community member." (Bullshit.)

"I'm doing it for the health of the city."  (Bullshit.)

"I'm doing it for my mom." (Bingo)

For in the days when my mom was healthy, she would garden. She would love to spend time outside tending the soil, pulling the weeds, and planting some beautiful flowers. There was a time she was indeed quite athletic - playing baseball with the neighborhood kids, playing tennis with me, catching my sister's pitching. This was all before the arthritis. This was all before the brittleness. All before the fall.

Deep down, I never want anyone to be sick. It's too heartbreaking, even for an old kid like me. For the sake of my mother, in honor of her, and in the deep desire to support in others what my mother so desperately needed, I take a stand for everyone's health. It's something in which I can find purpose ... with all my heart.

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