In a recent effort to better learn the tools of “social media”–or, the tools of virtual community building–I thought the best first question to answer was the prioritized question(s) of my family, friends, and community members. At yarrow community care & clinic (@thisisyarrow), we sent a quick text to our closest people and asked, “If you could ask ONE question of your healthcare provider, what would it be?”
We thought that if we provided the much-beloved context of a desert-island-game-mindset–in line with, “desert island movies,” or “desert island mates”–we could find out what our beloveds most desired to know of the people with the potential to be a partner, gatekeeper, stakeholder in their health and healing.
We were pleasantly surprised by the nuance and complexity of some of the questions we received–but why should we be surprised?? our people are *brilliant*–and we sought to answer a few in real-time before we lost our nerve. A blip in our efforts to better introduce ourselves through the virtual tools, and we hope to continue to provide the answers in our imagined evolution of “frequently asked questions (FAQs).”
A week or so since we asked our community, my mind is still swirling with my own questions–for myself as a person to myself as a provider, for my potential/current providers, for providers who care for my children and my loved ones.
One of my biggest questions to myself as a politicized healer in this last week has been: how does my anti-racism, anti-oppression, decolonization, somatic/embodied, queer liberatory lens manifest in the work that I do as a clinician and healthcare provider?
Big question. Hugely complex and nuanced answer. Perhaps too large to ever fully unearth and examine–like exploring the vastness of the sea, or of space, or of the human body, or of the gut microbiome, or of the imagination, or of all of the reasons we love. But a question I crave to know the answer to more and more–and a question I am asked more and more with every actionable step I take in the work that I do, in the way that I parent, in how I show up to my friendships, of how I love myself.
Today, as I contemplate the days that lay ahead of me in terms of client-care, educational committees, association development, institutional consultations, community capacity building, researching, writing, building, dreaming–I have again picked up a book that has brought me many moments reveling in wonder: Emergent Strategy by adrienne maree brown.
In beginning this read again, the lyrical words of the introduction lifted off the page and gave name to some of the feelings that begin to capture how I approach clinical and critical thinking in the work I do as a healthcare provider, community organizer, advocate, parent, and partner.
You ask, how do I see you? How do I see you as a “client/patient” from my seat as “healthcare provider”?
First, I can tell you how I do not see you. I do not see you as a blank canvas, an empty land, or a new idea. There is no such thing as a blank canvas, empty land, or new ideas.
What I do see everywhere–within you, about you–is complex, ancient, fertile ground full of potential–emerging, remembering, changing, (re)forming, (re)generating, and resplendent. I orient–my work, my way of moving through this world, my way of relating to myself and to other and to you–toward harmony, right relationship, balance, homeostasis. I center–my work, my way of moving through this world, my way of relating to myself and to other and to you–dignity, collective power, love, generative conflict, and community.
Growth happens through fusion, not competition. Organizing means listening, supporting, collaborating, merging, strengthening. Strength is depth. Scaling up means going deeper, being more vulnerable, and being more empathetic. Going deeper mas re-rooting–in the earth, in myself and my creativity, in my community, in my spiritual practices, in honing on my work that is not only meaningful but feels joyful, listening with less and less judgment to the ideas and efforts of others, having visions that are long term. Re-rooting in humility–to learn, to be taught, to have teachers.
I close with a question that a great teacher of mine asks all of us, through the pages of Emergent Strategy:
The Sufi poet Hafiz said, “How do I listen to others? As if everyone were my Teacher, speaking to me (Her) cherished last words.”
I am listening now with all of my senses, as if the whole universe might exist just to teach me more about love. I listen to strangers, I listen to random invitations, I listen to criticisms, I listen to my body, I listen to my creativity and to the artists who inspire me, I listen to elders, I listen to my dreams and the books I am reading.
I am a healthcare provider who spends time in reflection, prayer, and meditation–seeking to move from spirit towards liberation. I am a healthcare provider who walks my own path so that I avoid the temptation to vicariously walk another’s path. Everyone is my teacher. I thank you for the opportunity to learn from you walking your path. I thank myself for the opportunity to learn from walking my own path.
all my love, dr. jess gee