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The Delicate Balance: The Law of Survival

Inspired by the ancient book of wisdom, The Tao Te Ching: Verse Twenty-Two

Yield and remain whole. Bend and remain straight
Be low and become filled. Be worn out and become renewed
Have little and receive. Have much and be confused
Therefore the sages hold to the one as an example for the world
Without flaunting themselves – and so are seen clearly
Without presuming themselves – and so are distinguished
Without praising themselves – and so have merit
Without boasting about themselves – and so are lasting                                    

Because they do not contend, the world cannot contend with them
What the ancients called “the one who yields and remains whole”
Were they speaking empty words?
Sincerity becoming whole, and returning to oneself

                                           Lao Tzu


Here Lao Tzu counsels us to let go of the need for attachments and encouraging us to adopt an approach to life that is accommodating. We are being instructed to find our comfort zone with change and embrace it. Incorporating this skill into your temperament will align you with impermanence which is the one constant in the reality of life. This in turn will allow you to yield without lamenting the past and tormenting yourself with a sense of loss.

I am continually amazed by how appropriate these ancient teachings are to the social and economic challenges our world faces today. The world is ever changing. Nothing is fixed. What we know and cling to today for a sense of stability or footing is pulled out from under us tomorrow. This has always been so. With the advent of 24-hour news services and social media, this truth seems to be relentlessly in our face and it is often hard to breathe.

The world of healthcare is morphing as we speak. Long Term Care facilities, conventionally thought of as elder nursing homes, are now medical surgical hospitals as resident acuity climbs in response to the transitional care models driven by managed care. Many of my nursing colleagues would cringe at the thought of a new graduate entering the specialty of home care without at least one year of subacute or acute care experience. Yet, as the availability of jobs in hospitals and rehabilitation centers decline and the need for nurses in home care rises; home health care agencies are designing orientation programs to meet the needs of the new graduate entering into this venue as a first experience.

Soon acute care hospitals will consist of an emergency department, perioperative services, critical care and perhaps obstetrics. All other levels of care will be provided somewhere in the healthcare continuum but not in the hospital. Community and home care support services are being rolled back at best and in many cases discontinued altogether. We can rage against these changes with all the ego-based arrogance we can muster or we can stay open and focused to ensure that we advocate for the safest and best care possible. Scary as it sounds no one has a clear vision of the future therefore; we need to be ready for anything.

The ability to adapt is an essential quality for a professional or family caregiver. It is one of the ingredients to creating a balanced life and a sense of contentment. This sense of groundlessness can also help you be a better caregiver. If you are brave enough to connect with your own fears associated with uncertainty you can develop a greater sensitivity for the place that the person you are caring for finds him or herself in. This sense of identification and compassion can add a new depth to your ability to be therapeutic.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives; nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” Charles Darwin


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