Nope, I won’t do it. I just won’t. This is a column about long-term care and the important issues facing our profession. I absolutely refuse to get drawn into a heated discussion about the elephant in the room — not its tail or its Trump, I mean trunk. Gosh darn it, this is already impossible.

So, nice weather we’re having, wouldn’t you agree? How are the kids? Read any good books lately? I spent the weekend with Brad and Molly, and it was really great to see them after so many years. My favorite menu item at Shari’s is the Spring Spinach Omelette. I’m not saying it’s a better dining experience than Cracker Barrel, just different. Whew, another whole paragraph and I don’t think I said anything that will get me vilified in the comments section. That’s no small achievement.

Actually, there’s a lot happening we could discuss that has absolutely nothing to do with the — dare I even say the word? — election. HGTV is going to give an Illinois facility a landscaping facelift on television. That’s good, positive news. The Department of Health and Human Service says the medical appeals backlog could be gone by 2019. That’s something to celebrate. A fungi found in chronic wounds can form mixed bacterial-fungal biofilms associated with poor outcomes and longer healing times, researchers have discovered. That’s another non-partisan information nugget we could safely ponder.   

Edging a little closer to dangerous rhetorical territory, apparently Dr. Ben Carson might be the new HHS secretary. Surely we can all rise above division and rancor and admit that having such a sleepy person in charge could be incredibly soothing. Call me a dreamer, but recordings of The Man with the Gifted Hands reading from the MDS manual could even be a solution to resident insomnia. He seems to be a wonderful person, and I’ve never had anything negative to say about him in the past — not here, and certainly not here.  So he enjoys my complete and unequivocal support.

But oops, I did it again. Did you see what happened there? With just a moment of undisciplined inattention I slipped right back into sarcasm and cynicism, proving that in times like these, there are only two viable paths to healing — YouTube cat videos or kindness, as beautifully evoked in this poem by Naomi Shihab Nye:  

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

Things I Think is written by Gary Tetz, a national Silver Medalist and regional Gold Medal winner in the 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 at the end of a previous century. He is a multimedia consultant for Consonus Healthcare Services in Portland, OR.