Practice Bewilderment

Rumi said, “Sell your cleverness and practice bewilderment.”


I love that.

I feel like he was talking about medicine.

Here’s what I mean: You know how amazed you feel when children heal so quickly?

Or, how patients tell you they felt no pain after a big procedure that would have put you in bed for a week?

Or, the epiphany you had in anatomy and physiology class when you realized how all the body’s systems work so crazily well together?

To me, it’s kind of shocking that we don’t all walk around elbowing each other saying, “Can you believe that?!”

Why don’t we?

I believe it’s the padding.

The padding of life’s busyness, tediousness, and sleeplessness surrounds us.

It’s as if we’re wrapped up in huge strips of foam that isolate us from the awe and wonder that’s available to us.

We soften our reactions with the padding, too:

Remember the first time you correctly used a stethoscope and heard for the first time the murmur of a beating heart?

Or the fearful excitement that ignites the air when you help deliver a fresh, new baby?

Or the sadness you must push through when you read a pathology report on an elderly woman with breast cancer?

Or the agony of the loss after you put forth your best effort to save a young boy who slips away after a motor vehicle accident?

Sometimes, we put on a mask of all knowing cleverness to keep the core behind the padding at bay.

Rather than feel vulnerable and be open to the rawness of our own humanity, we wear a cloak of authority; of professionalism; of “can do.”

Every time we don that cloak, we slip deeper into the padding; we allow it to expand.

Because the truth is, when you cover up your feelings, you also block the wonderment that’s shining around you.

Ask yourself, who does the hiding serve?

Not the patient who needs your empathy and concern.

Not the family who must deal with devastating news about their loved ones.

And, dear one, not you. Most assuredly, not you.

Why not try practicing bewilderment?

Wonder is everywhere. You simply have to look for it on your drive in to work.

In your child’s eyes.

In your patient’s trust.

Have you allowed yourself to experience the beauty of wonderment lately?

I’d love to hear about it. Please share your experience below! Let’s start a conversation about how we can “sell our cleverness and practice bewilderment.”

CATEGORIES: Blog on March 24, 2014 by Starla Fitch, M.D.

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2 thoughts on “Practice Bewilderment

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