Many years ago a young doctor who had worked in a hospital on the Navajo Nation was interviewed in a radio program. He recalled an experience with an old Native American man with long braided hair who came to the emergency room one night. With clipboard in hand, the young doctor approached him and asked “How can I help you?” The old man looked straight ahead and did not answer. Feeling impatient, the young doctor said, “I cannot help you if you don’t speak to me.” “Tell me why you have come to the hospital.”
The old man then looked at him and said, “Do you dance?” As the young doctor pondered the strange question, it occurred to him that perhaps the patient was a tribal medicine man who, according to the ancient tribal customs, sought to heal the sick through song and dance rather than through the prescribing of medicine.
“No,” said the doctor, “I don’t dance. Do you dance?” the old man nodded yes. Then the doctor asked, “Could you teach me to dance?”
The old’s man’s response caused much reflection. “I can teach you to dance but you have to hear the music.”
This interaction between the young modern healer with the aged and wise healer should give us much to ponder. Learning to dance without music can be awkward and unfulfilling. In contrast, as we hear the tempo, learning to dance with music is uplifting, joyful, and unifying. We learn the dance steps with our minds but we hear the music with our hearts.
As I read this story once again, my thoughts were especially turned towards the senior class who are graduating as healers in just a few short days. In nursing school, our minds acquire the many intricate dance steps that include the pathologies of acute and chronic diseases, knowledge of current treatments and interventions, and how to answer NCLEX questions. But it is also my hope and belief that being a nursing student at Duquesne as well as being a member of DUSNA gave your heart the opportunity to hear the music of healing because the music takes us far beyond the things we do.
Hearing the music is the art of healing. It is the ability not to judge when judging comes so easily; the ability to understand unspoken words that so often come in moments filled with silence; the renewal we feel as we hand a newborn to their mother; the gratitude of a child when we feel our shift has been thankless; and the hope we can instill in a situation that most think is hopeless. The rhythm of healing can be complicated and tiring, but be patient and keep practicing. You are well prepared to bring harmony into the most challenging situations. So as graduation occurs and careers begin it is my wish to the class of 2015 that you can always hear the music!