The “Urgent Care” Of Our Lives

I am driving down the road when I notice a new billboard. Taking up a whole half of the advertisement is an image of a happy kid hanging on a tree limb. Covering the other half are the big, bold words: Urgent Care Now Open.

How have we gotten to the place where we now advertise, using fear-based tactics, the health support and healing we all need? How have we allowed marketers to use powerful and emotional imagery to sell us something that should have nothing whatsoever to do with how slick the ad campaign is to get us in the door? How have we allowed the use of terrifying young parents about the potential, and often unlikely, harms that can happen to their child, twisting that fear into a vehicle to sell them health care? And how have we taken the sacred trust between healer and patient and turned it into the sacrilege of a commodity sold based on generating fear?

It cannot be overstated how both egregious and sadly representative of our world that this one message depicts. I believe the injustice of it all is hitting me particularly hard because I have just finished reading over 40 self-reflection papers from my college students where the most dominant theme or sub-theme is their level of fear, anxiety, stress and insecurity. And while I recognize that there are lots and lots of factors into why this is so for the generations now, one salient contributing factor, that cannot be denied, is all of the cultural messages they have received over their lives around how dangerous life is.

This is represented so “exquisitely” in the use of an image of an innocent, unsuspecting kid having fun, while right next to it alluding to the tragedy that is just around the corner. This is powerfully depicted with how the billboard is set up; giving the message that even in the most seemingly care-free moments of childhood, something bad could happen. At any moment. Oh, but don’t worry, because now there is a new urgent care location just around the corner.

We are unnecessarily terrifying parents who go on to pass that terror onto their children; training them to be stuck regularly in a kind of warped fight-flight response. Our current ways of disproportionately focusing on what is unsafe, our worse case scenarios focus, our hyper-attention to the extremes and the unlikely outcomes, along with the self-generated fears that result, are taking their toll.

The tragic results? Our children are terrified of strangers. They believe something bad is about to happen at any moment which is why they must always have a cell phone on them. They do not sleep well. They do not let down. Unless of course, it is with the help of drugs; prescribed and otherwise. They cannot focus. And who could under these circumstances? Their poor little nervous systems have been conditioned to believe that the head must be on a swivel at all times to locate and identify all the ever-present sources of threat.

Instead of living, they ruminate. They isolate. They get sleep disorders, panic attacks and G.I. problems. They are so hopped up all the time on fear and anxiety that they need far too much alcohol, faceless sex, and far too many Netflix episodes to try and talk themselves off the ledge they live on. They have taken what they have gotten from us and gone on to up the ante by seeing danger everywhere. The level of self-generated fears they have created in their own lives is both maddening and suffocating.

Are there dangerous realities to the world? Certainly. As parents do we want to protect our children at all costs? Definitely. But what has been conjured up, whipped up, and force fed to both us and our children is not keeping us safe, it is making us sick and unhappy. What if for their sake we all worked together to get a handle around what is true and untrue when it comes to the fears we hold? Want a place to start? Do a news fast for a week. Stop entertaining yourself on violence or subjecting your kids to content and conversations that are beyond their level of maturity to handle. Quit violent gaming. Stop watching the same horrific news story over and over again. Isn’t once enough?

What We Call Things

Have you ever noticed the places where what we would say we are doing as a culture flies in the face of what is actually and truly happening? It often feels to me like the equivalent of The Emperor’s New Clothes. Do you know that story? The one where the Emperor, the “wise” ones, along with the masses are being misled into believing, or at least acting as though they believe, that the display they are bearing witness to is finery, when in fact it is an all out duping? More to the point, that what is being represented and sold as the finest imaginable is in fact, a lie? And how in the end, it takes the integrity and honesty, along with a lack of commitment to the status quo, of a child, to name the Truth? A kind of Truth, by the way, that every adult in that moment was capable of claiming?

An example of how this goes on regularly in our culture occurred recently while I was taking my husband to an eye appointment; the kind where you need someone else to drive you because your pupils have been dilated. This meant that I was the one driving him, which meant that I found myself moving through an area saturated with enormous building after enormous building of medical offices. Row after row of factories housing our “health”/disease care system. No more fully in evidence than when I passed what is named, “The Center for Cancer Care.”

The Center for Cancer Care?? Did I read that wrong? I must have because how could we possibly have created, gone on to fund, stand behind, and elevate to a position of being the gold standard, a center that cares for cancer?! Have we lost our minds?

Why is it not “The Center For Healing?” For Hope. For Human Care & Possibility. For Human Dignity. For Getting To The Root Cause of Disease. Why is it the cancer we are caring for? Does this focus leave us spending too many of our precious resources “caring” for cancer when in fact we should be caring for people? And is this why we have such a hard time eradicating it? Because we are pouring all of our resources into the wrong place, the wrong set of beliefs, the wrong set of approaches, and ultimately asking too many of the the wrong sets of questions because we are beginning with the wrong thing? Because we are beginning with what we are afraid of, instead of what we love? With what we want to eradicate instead of what we want to cultivate? Because we have not called it and defined it by its real name?

Here’s one for you. Does it strike you in any way odd that cancer has become such big business? And that for all of the billions and billions thrown at it, remains the disease that continues to thrive despite our best efforts? Is the war on cancer the best approach, or are we defining it in the wrong terms, ultimately taking us off course for a cure?

Maybe you find what I am saying naive, insulting or disrespectful. Maybe. “Of course we are not caring for cancer, we are caring for people,” many would say. Maybe. But the words being used tell another story. The words demonstrate an unavoidable truth; the focus is on cancer. The starting point is on cancer. On disease. On the problem. Not people. Not health. Not healing. Not the solution.

What we name things matters. The ability to call something by its true name matters. The real and true name serves as the starting point, after which everything else will follow. Therefore, if we do not get it right at the start, it will never be right. It follows then that it is essential that we recognize that the words we choose carry weight and tell a story; both obvious and hidden. Words reveal powerful meaning around how we really think about something; holding all of the intentions, beliefs, attitudes and motivations embedded within the words we use, along with the reasons we use them. But only if we are willing to pay attention.

While the West does not recognize the energetic and vibratory nature of language, traditions in the East do. Sanskrit for one, does. It recognizes that sound, words, are the most powerful medicine on the planet, and therefore are to be used with great care, respect, clarity and reverence. Even the Bible recognizes this; “In the beginning was the word…”

Look around. Where do you see things not being called by their true name? What would it take for you to be more intentional with the words you use? What would it take to bring more discernment around what you are accepting as truth? And where can you step beyond your comfort zone, the need to belong to the wrong thing, along with lifetimes of fears, to call out the culturally agreed upon falsehoods that we are calling our finest, all while elevating us to our very worst.

(Inspired by Vici. Thank you dear friend.)



A Yoga teacher I know often says in class some version of, “Stay with yourself.” It never ceases to stop me in my tracks. Those tracks being all of the ways that my mind, chattering, obsessing and preoccupied as it is, has led me to be anywhere but with myself. Do you remember when they used to say “Elvis has left the building?” That’s what it feels like. Only, it’s me and not Elvis. And the building is my body.

There seems to be a real epidemic of “leaving” in the culture. So many ways and so many reasons to get out of the body and whatever our experience is. Take my college students and the way that they party. Recently, while working with the concept of mindfulness, the art and science of being present moment to moment without judgment, they began talking about how they use drugs and alcohol to knock down the stress. Jokingly I was calling it the sledgehammer approach. A way of forcefully busting through the stress by getting blackout drunk.

But because they have been practicing being mindful with their bodies, it has been opening up the possibility of managing the stress differently. Of noticing when the build up of tension is occurring, leaving them in a position to try something like the breath or time outside, as opposed to letting the stress accumulate unchecked. And for the ones practicing being more in their bodies, they’re finding that it just doesn’t feel so good anymore to pound down 14 beers when 3 would suffice.

But in order for any of us to make this level of shift with whatever our “sledgehammer of choice” is requires, first and foremost, the willingness to inhabit ourselves differently. The willingness to want something else other than annihilating ourselves with habits that harm. This requires three things. The space that you carve out to take care of yourself. A perspective on why this would be important for you. And a practice; something you do on a regular basis to get clear in your mind while offering a stress outlet for the body.

You might be wondering what is available should you practice staying with yourself. While I could list off all of the things I have experienced, along with all of the things students have said, I encourage you to give it a try for yourself. For this is truly the only way this one works. You cannot think about this one, or watch a video on it. You cannot wait until later. It begins in this moment and it is something you have to practice over and over again. Why? Because given how long many of us have been outside the building of our own bodies, leaving has become familiar and normal. Leaving is rewarded by the culture. Leaving has become more compelling than staying.



I don’t know about you, but I often want to know exactly how things are going to turn out. I want some kind of a guarantee. I want a map. A good one. And I want assurances that I am on the right track. Something that says, “Here’s how to do it, and here’s how it will all turn out.” And P.S., you will be OK through it all.

This is all so very, very human. And so very, very short-sighted.

It is not a surprise that many of us would characterize the times we are living in as uncertain. Certainly, you can find lots and lots of support for this just by listening to the daily news. It might even feel as though we are living in perhaps the most uncertain times ever in the history of man. This leaves many of us terrified, stressed, angry, jaded and overwhelmed. And I think we might be hard-pressed to find too many people who would welcome, and even thrive on the uncertainty we are facing.

And yet, what if we could? What if what we need most right now is the ability, personally and collectively, to create through, and with, the uncertainty?

It puts me in mind of my daughter who called last June very upset because the house she was to be moving into in a matter of a few short weeks, had had an electrical fire. That meant that she would not be able to move in until September. At best. She was very distressed not knowing what was going to happen. Where she was going to live. What this meant for her summer plans. If the house would even be ready in the fall for when school started back.

At some point, however, she caught up to the situation, and began to embrace the reality that the certainty she had been counting on, was gone. The question then became, “what next?” Surprisingly enough, with uncertainty fully embraced, she set up an amazing experience for herself in the Northwest Territories of Canada where she lived in a yurt and met great people, all while interning for a farm whose mission it is to bring greater food awareness and security into a part of the world deficient in this. She learned a ton of new skills. She spent time in a magnificent landscape. And she grew.

Even better? Upon arriving home, not only was the house ready weeks before school started, but it had been rehabbed back into a far better condition than what she had signed up for. She described it as feeling like she had moved into a brand new place! Not only that, but she saved money as no rent was charged for several months.

Win. Win. Win.

But none of this would have happened if she had fallen into fear or despair over the uncertainty of her situation. And that’s the trick. Recognizing that when the unexpected strikes, if we can gather ourselves long enough to be open to an opportunity, something amazing might just be born out of the uncertainty. As crazy as it may seem when we find ourselves uncomfortable or afraid, this is what is available. Always. Believe it or not, it is available around political polarization, climate change, violence, job loss, illness, and any of the other personal and collective uncertainties we are facing.

This is not easy to see or to do. But the truth is, life is uncertain. Every second of every day. It’s just that we have gotten so used to a certain level of predictability and orderliness that we forget, that like any creature on the planet, we too are subject to the laws of chaos, change and uncertainty.

But what if we embraced this? What if instead of fear, despair, outrage and overwhelm, we chose to say “Yes” as quickly as we could, followed by, “What is possible here?” What if  seeing uncertainty not only as a hard and fast reality, but also as a highly creative partner, a kind of muse, became our new narrative? A force in Life not meant to tear us down, create defeat, pessimism and victimization, but instead an opening to possibility.

How then would you look at what is in front of you now? How then would you look at what is happening on the world stage?