I spent the last six days and nights of 2016 at the Taipei Veterans General Hospital (VGH )in Taiwan caring for my wife after her surgery (btw she is doing great). The VGH is a modern, clean and efficient hospital. Yet, no one really wants to spend time there. Szu-ting’s ward was on the eighth floor, where babies were arrive into the world and other people leave it.
In the bed across from to Szu-ting’s a woman was dying. Only five feet of distance and a curtain separated us. When she could still walk, she smiled at us as she made her way to the bathroom. Her family talked in quiet voices as not to disturb Szu-ting after her surgery.
During my time at the hospital, I had time to reflect on the problems of the world. Not so much the problems of the physical world, which of course has many challenging issues, but the intolerance and lack of compassion of people. How do we change this?
I think it would be good for everyone to spend some time visiting a hospital. Hospitals are usually where events that all humans share occur; birth and death. What separates or brings us together is what happens in-between. We left the hospital on January 1, by this time the woman next to Szu-ting was bedridden and there was talk of moving her to hospice care. There were tears and pleading prayers coming from the other side of the curtain, but the woman and her family moved forward showing respect and dignity for what we will all face. I believe we need more of these realistic unselfish thoughts, words and actions to turn the negatives to positives in 2017.
One thing that brought me solace during my time at the hospital were brief visits to a small pond and vegetated courtyard within the hospital grounds. I find the power of the natural world to improve my physical and mental health amazing. I have spent all of my life enjoying the outdoors, but never thought why it made me feel so good. In 2017, I am starting a project to look into “The Reason Why.” There is much to discuss, but for now here is a short video from the hospital’s natural area.