Being Present for Future Success

It's the close of another trimester and the twilight of this bizarre year. I always find it surreal to look back on the year and think about all the changes that have occurred in such a brief period of time. As life gets busier, time only passes quicker and it's easy to get overwhelmed by the rapid change, the plans for the future, and the yearning for the simplicity of times past.

Consequently, the only period of time that truly gets overlooked is also the most important -- the present. After all, now is the only time that we can truly enact change, the only time that we truly exist. Southpark, the hit animated TV show, depicts the arrest of progress, due to nostalgia for a bygone era, as getting addicted to "(re)'member berries." These berries constantly talk about how great times used to be, paralyzing people with yearning for a time and world that no longer exist. It's a powerful message about how working with the present reality is the only way to ensure a better future.

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Image source: teepublic.com

A more philosophical way to describe this is through the lens of the Tao -- the way of nature -- or as Alan Watts calls it, "the watercourse way." The general premise is that all things in life, time included, work as a stream. Water, one of the "weakest" things on earth, is also the most powerful when working in a stream. A river carved the Grand Canyon from rock over millennia. Water works within its banks, for there is no strength without direction and no power in trying to stay in one place or leaping ahead. Change occurs when working with where we are, in the present. It's all we truly can do. We must work within our stream.

Dr. Hodges gave us a reality check during our last lecture in Business and Marketing. He reminded us that we only have four trimesters left at NUHS. He implored us to get out there, meet doctors, and discover the practices that will work best for us. Graduation is coming quickly, and trying to tackle everything at once can be paralyzing. The best way to meet goals is to work in the moment, but don't try to force things, see where the stream takes you and work with that, moment by moment.

Searching for Answers

The world is changing, especially in westernized societies, and medicine is changing with it. For all the flak we millennials take concerning our perceived threat to all the glorious capitalist aspects of everyday American life, the housing market, our under consumption, and our disregard for "tried-and-true" dating methods, we are spearheading a truly productive and wonderful revolution in the arenas of health and natural conservation.

We are investors in life experience, vitality, health, and environment. We consume less, need fewer traditional status symbols, and use the surplus to invest in making memories and nurturing our unique individuality. If society is an organism, which in many ways it is, one can view the millennial revolution as a natural compensatory mechanism aimed to stymy the vast over-consumption and inequality driven by superficial consumerism.

We are ardent researchers of things important to us, so I have found it no surprise that almost all millennials I sit down and talk with about the approach to health that we are taught here at NUHS, not only understand it, but also they are passionate about what we have to offer. 

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Travel: True Millennial Currency

Even in lieu of an intimate knowledge of Chiropractic Medicine, millennials are very open to a form of treatment aimed at restoring true, natural function, when possible, instead of the illusion of function provided by many pharmaceuticals. They're questioning the system that they've become disillusioned with; they're searching for answers outside the all too common pharmaceutical prescriptions. They want vitality and we're perfectly poised to do just that. The allopathic medical community will be slow to adapt, and big Pharma and their own philosophy on healthcare will limit their adaptation.

Over Thanksgiving, I had the opportunity to speak with many people about this very subject, most of whom are not millennials. Most belong to a generation born and raised in the long shadow cast by an ever-growing pharmaceutical industry in an increasingly burdened healthcare system. They have felt first-hand the less than desirable side effects of some of the unnecessary prescriptions, and the highly processed food that, until recently, hadn't been thoroughly studied. They, too, are coming around. There is great growth happening right now in our profession and I'm happy to be on the right side of it.

Friendsgiving Extravaganza

It seems the week before Thanksgiving is often busier than Thanksgiving week itself. There is always a flurry of exams and get-togethers to be had before the holiday and the subsequent time demand of finals. This week the exams du jour consisted of Tumors Radiology (practical and written), Pediatrics and Special Populations, and Functional Rehabilitation. However, the academic rigors of the week were just a small aspect of my obligations.

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The Friendsgiving Spread

Friendsgiving, one of the most important holidays of the year, is a celebration of friendship, great food, good wine (and Cat's bud lite of course), and exquisite conversation. It was held on Thursday night and the 18 of us, both DC and ND students, ate until our bellies were bursting at the seams. You may be under the impression that health nuts like us probably prepare a rather melancholy feast, and under some circumstances that may definitely be the case. However, being the millennial foodies that we are, the creation of a smorgasbord of flavor and variety of gluten free, dairy free food was practically second nature. Our bellies full, festivities shifted into lively debates and discussions on the topics facing the world today. It was a great prelude to a weekend at the Mohr cabin.

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Our routine shenanigans were stymied a bit by the 40º weather that set in directly after our 70º day. Being the innovators that we are, we quickly adapted and found more weather appropriate activities. Jumping in the lake was still high on the list, but took second place to cheers-ing the trimester and target shooting with the bow. After the 9pm dip in the lake, festivities shifted more towards indoor, warm pursuits including euchre and harassing Blaire. Personally, I can't think of a better way to celebrate exam success and the beginning of the holiday season. I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving as well!

My Haven from Election Madness

The World Series ripped through Wrigleyville in a very physical way. There was elation roaring through the streets. Complete strangers came together to celebrate. There was teasing of rival teams' fans, both on the streets, and a bit more vigorously, on social media. That's as far as it went. Throughout all the teasing, there was always a subtle thread of respect and understanding of those allegiant to their respective teams. There are vast amounts of reasons why people support a particular team over another, and those reasons are respected almost universally in the sports world. There is an understanding that no matter what team you align yourself with, you have your reasons -- no matter how superfluous they seem. Support for a team isn't conflated with support for the actions or views of all the players.

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The "election series" just ended and the difference couldn't have been starker. Hate, blame and condescension was displayed all over my Facebook news feed and the media. The schism between red and blue opened a little further, driven by idealistic elitism and smugness. There's a pervasive and damning attitude in the American political paradigm characterized by the belief that, "If someone isn't completely with us, they're completely against us and everything we stand for."

Sixty million people, on either side of the aisle, don't vote for a candidate based completely because of their rhetoric or even their policies. Many voters base their vote on a single issue most important to them and their beliefs. During any election, people are always worried things they consider to be intrinsic rights will be taken away. The point is we, as a country, are bigger than this behavior. It is possible to respect people's core beliefs and disagree in a non-toxic way. Many institutions of higher education prove just that.

National proved to be a haven, free from the buffeting winds of discontent. It wasn't because this was a single candidate school. It was because those that attend this school are aware of the fact that people vote their beliefs. Students knew that a vote for Hillary didn't mean a vote for continued negligence with classified information or some of her unfortunate campaign rhetoric, and that a vote for Trump is not synonymous support for his damning campaign rhetoric. The support and understanding within the student body disintegrated any illusion that votes were cast out of bigotry, elitism, or xenophobia. It was the microcosm of what America should be. 

The Man, The Myth

It's 4 p.m. on a Thursday. I'm sitting slumped in a chair, my position a product of a slow, inch-by-inch process over the past 30 minutes. I'm too lazy to right myself, despite being acutely aware of the glut of issues that are consequential to the posture. Not to mention, I'm quite enthralled by the towering, white-haired individual poised with a nonchalant confidence behind the podium delivering one hell of a lecture. At around 6'4", if not taller, he truly does tower above a seated classroom. Despite his stature, his tact and unflappable demeanor make him accessible and approachable -- attributes that make him one of the most beloved professors on campus.

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His lectures are often punctuated with bouts of jovial exasperation, directed not at the students, but rather at a few of the ridiculous pharmacological practices that exist "out there." His vast knowledge is instantly apparent as words and concepts roll smoothly from mind to tongue and questions are answered instantaneously without pause. He takes teaching seriously, as displayed by his dedication to stepping away from the podium when he wishes to make a comment based off years of experience or insight, but isn't overtly taught in the main textbooks.

Dr. Daniel Richardson, a brilliant mind in the field of Pharmacology and Pharmacognosy, is our professor of Pharmacology. He received his PhD from Loyola Stritch School of Medicine and since then has been a dean at a few schools and a faculty member at even more. Entire pharmacology programs have been written into existence by his hand. He has taught at NUHS for many years and these days, lucky for us, we have him all to ourselves...for the most part. He may not drink Dos Equis, but he may just be the most interesting man in the world.