Saturday, February 7, 2009

Health Care Design Intensive in Baltimore

I went w/ School for Designing a Society & th Gesundheit Institute to Baltimore this past week for a Health Care Design Intensive. A hundred or so people gathered in th American Visionary Art Museum to generate new alternatives & conversations about more desirable ways of doing health care. Guests included students, artists, nurses, activists, doctors, patients, visionaries, educators, clowns. My friend Susan hosted, along w/ Patch Adams, who I found delightful. We had talks, workshops, design groups, Q&A's, polka dances, powerpoints, & singalongs. I fell in love w/ several great people & great ideas.

On th first day, Gesundheit had an event to raise funds for a hospital they've been building in West Virginia for some years. I learned about their work & offered my own contribution in th form of two old Nodal Nim songs, performed by Jacobbarton on udderbot & myself singing & mandolinning (vegetables you've never heard of & love song 5).

Patch led us in a workshop on loving, which consisted of four parts:

  1. We paired up & hugged - good hugs - long hugs - hugs in which we make ourselves entirely present w/ each other. One of th ladies that I hugged during this part found me every day of th conference for another hug, & each hug felt just incredible.
  2. We paired up w/ someone new & took turns gently holding th other person's head, gazing into their eyes, & saying, "I love you. I love you. I love you," for quite a while. I found that at first it didn't seem right, but then it seemed exactly right ("Yes, I do love this person!") & finally it seemed far too mild! I felt a way not at all done justice by th phrase "I love you." (Patch said later, in th context of a poetry recital slash mic check, "All love poems are understatements," & that made a lot of sense to me after this exercise.)
  3. We changed partners again, & this time, person B rested their head on person A's lap while person A gazed into person B's eyes & comforted them in silence, touching them, soothing them, imagining that their mother had just died. It felt great, & I think I let go of much of my pain then (for I found myself clinging to suffering very very little thru th rest of th conference). Th woman I comforted gushed afterward & seemed to feel quite a bit of relief as well.
  4. Finally, we paired up w/ someone new & took turns, while gazing into each other's eyes & not breaking eye contact, telling th story of love in our lives. Everything good, everything loving. I talked about my mother, memories of my father, my dog, my housemates, my former lovers. My partner, an older woman, told me about th first time she fell in love, & tears welled up for both of us. I felt close to this woman thru th rest of th conference, & talked to her a bit each day after that.


I wanted to share these exercises because I think they effected me th most. I learned that I can love perfect strangers, genuinely love them, & it feels very right to do so. I've started moving toward an greater embodiment of compassion, & having done this workshop, I think I've come far toward a goal: to genuinely feel love for everyone in my life.

I made good friends: a film-maker named Koushalya, who I hope to eventually clown w/ on th subway in NYC to get smiles of th miserable unsmiling masses (th little darlings!). I asked Koushalya th time & she showed me her watch. It has no hands. "Time is an illusion," she reminded me, & I laughed w/ joy at her thoughtful & welcome perturbation. Her filmmaking team: Accessible Horizons.

& six young students from Austria - Alexander, Reinhard, Giselle, Paula, Matteös & Lucy. Dressed as clowns, they smiled, danced, sang songs about sushi, wrestled, hugged & kissed us all. I felt fantastic in their presence, & they inspired me to relax & show love. They have intentions to build a hospital in Austria called Einherz, which means "One Heart." I will miss them & remember them, & I wish them th best. Paula made me promise to visit them in Europe... so who wants to sponsor a trip overseas for Andrew?

So much more to say. So much fun & love. It carried over today, as I stayed out dancing in Urbana at th Independent Media Center, to music DJed by my good friends Nate, Chris, & Elizabeth. I'll end w/ a new self-description in th form of a list of intentions that I put together at th Intensive:

* I live in love.

* I sit in gigantic NOW.

* I remember that I am myself AND I am not myself (I don't take myself literally).

* I LOVE US (& I will never again not love a stranger).

* I am not, but I am becoming.

* I work (moment to moment) to trivialize (projected) power differences while cultivating appreciation for distinction out of love.


Love to All,
Andrew

1 comment:

earthling said...

the physical part of me feels inspired by emotions...
as i connect with the integral part of me...in this realm...
i know i have always connected with each one in this realm..
where we were just parts of a whole...
trying to find one in another...
and that thought sufficing for this reality...

what can i say about that thought process...
which links me with the rest..

i have to dare to be transparent with the knowing...
and respect this realm that we live...
i have to find a way to justify the thoughts that have lingered...
and reached out to me..
love is a word we humans use to express an extreme emotion in this realm..
some say it is a cliche...
but for me it is 'breath'...
i might have said this a million times to myself...and a many souls...
i love..therefore i am...
i have always loved...and do love ...and will love...
i want to extend these thoughts out into the ether and connect in a way...

that will connect us in a purpose together...