One of the really important qualities to develop as we go along in life is the ability to recognize wisdom and truth wherever we may find it and to accept it as such. Each of us may gain a special insight into something by being watchful in this way. I could offer that I have sought such knowledge in Chinese philosophy including Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, and the I Ching, but, actually, I am still waiting to do that.
However, some months back, my son, Ben, and I wanted some Chinese food (yeah, I know), so we went into Lulu’s restaurant on Cerrillos Road in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Well, I like the Thai basil chicken dish with steamed white rice there. Ben ordered mixed Chinese vegetables. So, we ate our food and, at the end, engaged in the ritual of selecting a “fortune cookie”. I cracked open the little folded “cookie” and pulled out the slip of paper. It said: “Our life is the creation of our mind.” Truthfully, I was astonished.
Now, I have to admit that if it had said something like “You are about to make new friends”, or “you will soon come into money” it would have startled me a lot less. Who put such a statement into a fortune cookie?? It really rocked me. I subsequently took the paper slip with the profound aphorism home and taped it to the front cover of a book I have. I look at it and think about it frequently. With this phrase in mind, let’s think about what follows.
In the 1700’s, Swedish botanist and physician Carl Linnaeus developed the still-used system of taxonomy which attempts to name every living thing in a systematic order. You remember: Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Tribe, Genus, Species. For example, the Genus and Species name for the most common wheat is Triticum aestivum. However, there are at least 23 species of wheat and, within a given species, are many varieties or “cultivars”. People living in wheat country must know some of the plant genetics it takes to discover or create this rich diversity. Depending on the variety of Triticum planted, the qualities of the harvested wheat differ.
We also know about this in the poignant and beautiful often-red flower called a poppy. Papaver somniferum is the opium poppy from which such natural opiates as morphine and codeine are obtained and synthetic opioids such as oxycodone, fentanyl, and heroin are derived. But then there is the red Papaver rhoeas which is the “corn poppy “ that grew in the devastated Flanders fields of France during World War I. This poppy, which still contains small amounts of opium, has become the symbol that memorializes the armistice that ended that war. These “corn poppy” flowers and species similar to it are commonly planted as ornamentals in gardens all around the world.
Then, there is the very similar case of Cannabis sativa. Some varieties called “marijuana” contain substantial quantities of “THC” (tetrahydrocannabinol) and are cultivated for use in altering one’s state of consciousness. Another variety called “hemp” has very little THC in it but can be used for many industrial purposes such as fiber. There are also varieties grown to produce the molecule “CBD” or cannabidiol, which is being shown to have profoundly positive medicinal effects. More research will be done.
Suffice it to say that marijuana and hemp are as varied as wheat or poppies.
I want to say something now which is very direct and candid. In the July 12 and July 19 issues of the Kiowa County Independent, the publisher, Betsy Barnett, and the editor, Priscilla Waggoner, have presented some very high-level journalism including opinion and researched articles that are very rarely seen anymore in publications offered to the general public. I want to make it clear that this is an example of the wisdom and truth of which I previously spoke, and I encourage the readers to take a careful look and recognize it for what it really is. Our thoughtful analysis of this and the action we choose to take or not take are fully within the realm of “Our life is the creation of our mind.” What are we going to do about it?
I’m going to say something else related to a pattern of thinking we too commonly engage in where we accept the “routine” or “ordinary” as being “the way things were and always will be” without even examining what the implications of that thinking might be.
A perfect example is this business I continue to cite regarding our current use of energy and what is costs us, in both financial terms and in cultural terms for the human species on this planet. When I got back to Alamosa after my most recent stay with the esteemed people of the prairie country, I found my utility bill. From June 8 to July 10 I paid $18.30 for gas and $5.89 for electricity “service”. (I pay $0 for electricity because my solar panels generate electricity for me.) I have a standard home. If you accept paying whatever amount you pay for your energy, it is the choice of your mind and that creates your life. I simply made the decision long ago to accept what the Sun offers and I invested in it both psychologically and financially. If there is anything an Emergency Physician has to do it is make decisions, and that one I made. Xcel will have to get along without a large contribution from me. If you can find a better investment anywhere out there, please let me know.
But just like investing in our health, in our education, in our friends, in our family, in our community, in our country, and in the Earth, we will benefit in proportion to what we put into it. As a poignant example, I see people all the time who seem to accept that the value of their well being and life can be defined by what a health insurance company employee decides they want their company to spend on keeping that person or persons alive or well. Really. That gross outrage I do not accept and will never accept. So maybe I value my patients more than they value themselves. I truly hope that is not the case.
In all these ways, my friends, I encourage all of us to look at what is directly in front of us. (I include myself in this.) Within our mind and feelings, what in life do we value and what do we want?
And to Betsy and Priscilla and all those who seek a better world for us: Keep the Faith.
Dr. Lenderts is Chief of Staff at
Kiowa County Hospital District and
a practicing physician at Weisbrod
Hospital and Eads Medical Clinic. He
is a regular contributor to the Kiowa