Last week I spoke to the Idaho Hospital Association at the Sun Valley Resort in Ketchum, Idaho. I told an audience of hospital exec’s that it didn’t make any difference who won next month’s Presidential election because nothing could stop the cultural shift from the current healthcare model based on intervention to a new model of delivery based on prediction and prevention.
I spoke about the importance of healing in community; healing is about becoming whole, being restored to health, and community is a place where people gather to share their hopes and dreams. A community welcomes/ encourages/honors each individual’s unique contributions and where all support common goals. A community transmits to its constituents a sense of shared values, an ethic about how to walk a good road in this life.
After my keynote I spent a couple extra days in Ketchum, which is my picture postcard of a healing community. I go to Ketchum to restore my spirit,. The beauty of its pristine forests and streams fills my cup with joy, and in the second week of October it’s resplendent in autumnal colors.
Ketchum admittedly has some unique gifts, a solid tax base, abundant natural resources, and a citizenry that transmits the ethic of this place. Young and old are encouraged to participate in what the community offers; walk, bike, fish, hunt, swim, skate, ski, and snow shoe; go to the post office and talk to your neighbors (there is no home mail delivery); go to the library, which has a great reading room with all the morning papers. This is rural America where people connect with each other and the land, celebrate their lives and honor their dead.
This was the home of Ernest Hemingway lived, worked, played, and ultimately killed himself. This Nobel Prize winning literary giant was also a world-class sportsman, loved women and alcohol. When his alcoholism robbed him of the wellspring of his creativity he became profoundly depressed. Not even electroshock therapy could move him beyond his inner demons, so he shot himself.
Hemingway is buried in the un-gated, non-denominational, cemetery next to the main road. His grave is strewn with coins (nobody takes them), a weathered copy of The Old Man and The Sea, and five empty beer bottles. In this community town people stand together celebrating their joys and lie side by side through their suffering.
In Ketchum they heal’em… myself included.