Walking Tale #HIMSS2013
You look upon a road, a long road down which you must travel. You can see the end, but it’s distant. You realize that you’d better get started because, even though it isn’t “a journey of a thousand miles,” it still will only be accomplished by taking the first step.
You begin, taking that first step, and then another, and then another. But before you’ve traveled even one thousandth of your beckoning road, you’re sidetracked by a road sign that calls to you. A way station along your path has already halted your progress and you spend the next twenty minutes partaking of the fare they offer.
Back out on the road and five more steps down the path before yet another beacon beckons your eye and begs you to stay and see. Another quarter hour passes before you rejoin your sojourn.
Each time you attempt to complete your travels, you find yourself halted after a mere few paces. Your goal of reaching the end of the road seems nearly unattainable. Still, each wayside stay brings interesting information that would be hard to otherwise glean. Each halting advance along the path adds something new to your mental arsenal.
Still, you have your goal. The end of the road seems as distant as when you started, yet on you travel.
Every few steps you notice a passerby who’s noticing your gleaming white tennis shoes. Some simply look, others grin, and more than a few pass with commentary which runs typically along the lines of, “You’re smart.”
“I’m not as slow as I look,” you reply (referring to your sagaciousness in choosing footwear suited to the trek you take, not to the speed with which you progress.)
You stride on, rarely feeling as if the snail’s pace of your excursion will ever bring the end within sight. Way station after way station, chit after chat…you always seem to be gaining something, but never seem to gaining ground.
Some of the way stations bring insights that you can use; others bring insights into things you know you’ll never use. Some show coolness and prescience; others show staleness and “catch-up-manship.” Some of the way station attendants are kind and courteous; others are neglectful and rude. (Most seem to wish they could have your footwear.)
Traveling on, you see mountains of the mundane. Many way station aides appear more interested in each other or in their digital social networks than in entertaining passersby. It worsens as the day drags on; their lassitude and languor grows driving your desire to try to disengage their disinterest down. Yet on you slog.
Occasionally, you see flashes of brilliance interspersed amongst the merely repetitive. This helps to keep you going, helps to keep you moving along toward your destination. It’s hard to know which way station will spark your imagination, but there are enough moments and methods of intrigue to keep you seeking the next. You look past the boastful, the bored, and the blatantly bland; you keep searching for the next truly bright idea or engaging way station assistant.
Finally, just when you think your feet can’t stand one more step, you realize you’ve reached the end! You’ve traveled the entire trail, meeting the brilliant and the meek-minded, seeing products superb and those barely-breathing, finding wise counsel and fulsome folly. You’ve seen it all and now you can rest…
…until, that is, you turn to walk down the next aisle.
From the trenches…
“The only exercise I take is walking behind the coffins of friends who took exercise.” – Peter O’Toole
Dr. Gregg Alexander, a grunt in the trenches pediatrician at Madison Pediatrics, is Chief Medical Officer for Health Nuts Media, an HIT and marketing consultant, and sits on the board of directors of the Ohio Health Information Partnership (OHIP).