Central PA Medicine Summer2020 - 32

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Features

We Few,
We Happy
Few
By DR. DAVID WHITE
Co-Founder of Aspire Health
Concepts, Inc.

I

n one of William Shakespeare's most
famous monologues, Henry V calls his
war-fighting men to take courage as
they prepare to face the overwhelming
French army on the battlefield. It is not merely
a call to overcome fear but rather to taste of one
of life's most exquisite delights; the relational
intimacy of shared identity and purpose.

We few, we happy
few, we band of
brothers;
For he today that
sheds his blood
with me
Shall be my
brother...
And gentlemen in
England now abed
Shall think
themselves accursed
they were not here...

32 Summer 2020 Central PA Medicine

Knowing One Another in the Now
This is not about the bravado of blood and war. This is about
standing alongside others, a selfless giving of yourself to a purpose
greater than yourself, received and embraced, known and declared
my brother, my sister, my friend. At our very core resides the inherent
desire to be truly known by others and have others to be known
by us. Absolutely essential to knowing is having shared experience.
From my youth I have heard my father talk of true intimacy as
knowing one another in "the now." It is one thing to recount to
someone that you felt afraid, but it is quite another for them to
experience you in those vulnerable moments as you cry out, freeze,
cower, or courageously rise up.
This is distinct from what I refer to as positional-intimacy. This
refers to those important times where we are in a position to lend
unidirectional comfort or counsel to someone in their time of need.
This can be a vulnerable experience for these individuals who, in
a very real sense, are emotionally naked before us. We who are
emotionally 'clothed' then bear an important responsibility to cover
them with dignity. As a physician, I am privileged to sit with many
individuals in their most vulnerable moments of pain, fear, grief,
anxiety and despair. Almost universally, patients apologize to me
if they cry during our visits. Crying is by no means offensive but
it is a moment of unintended, one-sided intimacy for the patient.
In their apology they are saying "I'm sorry for putting you in a
position where you have to respond to this right now." I have often
reassured patients that while I recognize the vulnerability of crying,
it is a right and honest response to the circumstances, and that in
the context, it is safe and good to share that emotion.
Passive Intimacy
Also different, but moving more vulnerably inward, is what I refer
to as passive intimacy. This is where we can dabble in expressing
emotion and being known without real relational risk. Who of us
has not been moved to laughter, tears, or cheers while reading a
book or watching a movie? These stories invite us into the intimate
spaces of people's lives. We come to love and care for these characters;
sometimes seeing them as dear friends, or at other times seeing
ourselves in them, either as we are or as we would like to be. In
either case, there is an experiential knowing of these characters as
we are invited into their circumstances. Perhaps more subtle is the
opportunity for us to be vicariously 'known' as we see the characters
express the same longings, love, and emotions that lay deep within us.
The characters either reflect our flaws, affirming that we are still okay,
or they express themselves in ways that we wish we could. In any


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Central PA Medicine Summer2020

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https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/CPAMed/CPMSummer2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/CPAMed/CPMSpring2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/CPAMed/CPMWinter2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/CPAMed/CPMFall19
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/CPAMed/CPMSummer19
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/CPAMed/CPMSpring19
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/CPAMed/CPMWinter19
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/CPAMed/CPMFall18
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/CPAMed/Summer2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/CPAMed/CPMSpring18
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/CPAMed/CPMWinter18
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/CPAMed/Fall2017
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/CPAMed/CentralPAMedicine_Summer17
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/CPAMed/CentralPAMedicine_Spring17
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/CPAMed/CentralPAMedicine_Feb2017
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com