Robert P. Frantz, MD is one of the most respected cardiologists in the world. Dr. Frantz shares his moving reflections on a critical cure–hope found in unlikely places and people.
What a year it was, with political rancor at an all time high and the simple idea that the mission of a public servant was to serve the public seemingly never farther from the minds of our elected officials. Rightfully, you ask ‘should I stop reading now?’ Stay with me here.
This year I have traveled the globe as never before, from the summit of Kilimanjaro, to the streets of Venezuela, where the warmth of the people is unending while the leader of the country is certifiably nuts. My wife Janell and I have walked the streets of Buenos Aires visiting with artists selling their wildly diverse visions at the Sunday market. Bought hand forged metal jewelry that would carry ten fold the price in some boutique in New York. Only to learn from a friend of the skilled craftsman that our purchase, made in the lengthening shadows as the artists huddle against the cold and daylight betrays, has been the first of the day.
And yet never have I been so optimistic about the human spirit, the fundamental goodness of humankind. Hakuna matata, shrug the porters on Kilimanjaro as they slip in their ill-fitting shoes on the muddy rocks while carrying their loads. No worries.
This is not a blind failure to recognize the strife and suffering that touch the lives of so many every day, or lack of a wish that things could be better. It is an ability to find beauty and happiness in this moment, even while suffering. An understanding that what we can change we must fight to change with every ounce of our energy, while accepting that some things, at least at a given moment, cannot be changed. Some things are just sad. It is what it is.
Yet a fundamental awareness of the transcendent power of relationships enables a smile despite adversity. Certainly not a grin, yet, an upturning at the corner of the mouth, the flickering sign of a remembering or a recognition of a human connection that lightens the spirit.
The crises facing the country and the world are of course of great concern, and the way forward has rarely been more obscure. So what leads me to close this brief year end dialogue on a positive note? Surely it is the incredibly consistent dedication of so many people across the world to maintaining human connections, helping friends, family and strangers alike.
It is the remarkably valiant effort of so many people to persevere despite adversity. Perhaps most powerfully, it is the feeling that I get when fellow travelers on this odyssey we call life look me in the eye, whether it be in Africa, Argentina, Korea or at home, and we connect. Keep connecting; nothing is more powerful, and nothing is more fundamental to making the world a better place for all of us. May the year ahead be one of happiness and purpose.
By Robert P. Frantz, MD