Anyone worried about the macro-challenges perpetually facing long-term care, and the country, should spend some quality time with Mr. Lincoln — preferably at night.
Not the Disney-fied, animatronic Mr. Lincoln who stands and speaks like a zombie. Not the Hollywood-ized Mr. Lincoln, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Daniel Day-Lewis. I’m talking about the real Mr. Lincoln — all 19 feet and 175 tons of pure rock-solid, heroically-lit inspiration.
Ably guarded by 13 veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam, I’ve been wandering the memorials in Washington, D.C., with impunity the past three days. But yesterday when evening fell, my judgment sank with the sun and a brave/foolish friend and I decided to pay a late night visit to the marble throne of our 16th president.
I was going to say, don’t try this at home, but home is actually the best place to try this — because then you’d be safe indoors. The problem was our decision to first fumble our way in the darkness to the Martin Luther King memorial, which involved a lot of traffic cones, construction barricades, dimly lit paths, scurrying rodents and deep, dark shadows concealing all manner of potential, if only imagined, threats. Kind of like life, which is why we wanted to get out of there as fast as possible.
Long story short, we survived, and lived to climb the wide, stone steps and finally enter Abe’s hallowed temple. The place is impressive in daylight, but at night it’s absolutely epic and hopelessly hope-creating. It’s just not possible to stand there and not feel transformed — even if you’re a stoic , historically cynical, Canadian life-form.
Like in one of those time-lapse scenes at the beginning of House of Cards, Mr. Lincoln just sits there calmly while the issues, big and small, trivial and ponderous, swirl around him. It’s not that he doesn’t care about the future of Medicaid funding or the Five Star rating system, or whether ACOs work, or if quality measures should be standardized, or how to protect therapy reimbursement or reduce hospital readmissions. He just knows they’ll get solved, one way or another, because that’s what people do when their hearts are in the right place.
As Winston Churchill is alleged to have muttered, you can count on America to do the right thing — after we try everything else. So if you find yourself wide awake in Our Nation’s Capital late at night, wander down to the Lincoln Memorial, crawl up onto his knee and watch the problems of the world swirl by. Nestle into the crook of his arm. Maybe tug on his beard if it makes you feel better. And know that somehow, some way, everything’s going to be fine.
Things I Think is written by Gary Tetz, a national Silver Medalist and regional Gold Medal winner in the 2014 Association of Business Press Editors (ASBPE) awards program. He has amused, informed and sometimes befuddled long-term care readers worldwide since his debut with the former SNALF.com at the end of a previous century. He is a multimedia consultant for Consonus Healthcare Services in Portland, OR.