Life can bring absolutely terrible circumstances to our peaceful lives. A sudden phone call bearing grave news. A nauseatingly bad diagnosis. Financial anxiety. Self-doubt. An irreparable mistake. Guilt.
Stressors compound upon one another, and the psychological toll builds. In my office I am visited daily by a torrent of fears, heartaches, and tears from the pained faces of men, women, and children. I think the general state of the world and our acute, extraordinary economic hardships have amplified the occasional woeful visits into the norm.
I do my best to help, emptying my shallow pockets of whatever empathy, counseling, and medication I can find. Sometimes I can help, but for some the burdens are too great. And when the stressors in my own life abound it becomes even more difficult to take on others’ despair, although a more genuine sympathy rises.
Yet in our supposedly mundane lives, going through times of great adversity, the Heroic emerges. People fight cancer. People fight misery. People persevere in the face of ruin. Bruised and tattered and self-aware they cope with incredible pain, or pass honorably having so endured.
I sometimes wonder if I should write one-word prescriptions instead of, or in addition to, medicines to stabilize a tempestuous mood. Should I dispense “citalopram 20 mg 1 tab po qd #30” with my right hand, and “Courage” with my left?
In tense moments of my own life I often resort to focusing on one-word manifestos. I meditate on the heroic qualities of literary characters, family members, patients I’ve seen walking the plank before me. I try to drown out the internal anxious dialogue with a mantra-like ohm.
Bravery. Resilience. Strength. Beauty. Courage. Hope. Faith. Endurance. Light.
Perhaps these most powerful assemblages of letters deserve a mystical place on prescriptions, helping to conjure walls of stone in the besieged minds of those who meditate upon them?