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So often, we fail to see the connections in our life. In some cases, this can be life threatening. In the New York Times Magazine article, Perplexing Pain, Lisa Sanders writes about a woman who suffered for years from attacks of abdominal pain, rapid heart rate, fever, and a variety of other symptoms. Despite seeing numerous doctors and even undergoing numerous surgeries, she remained in pain and her doctors were unable to figure out the cause of her symptoms.

Each doctor she saw would focus on a specific symptom in isolation and take action to treat it. When she complained of stomach pain, her appendix was removed but found not to be the cause of the pain. Another doctor thought ovarian cysts were the cause of her pain and removed both her ovaries without relief of the symptoms. It wasn’t until she had undergone thirteen surgeries (and also been told her pain was psychosomatic and the result of stress), that she finally found a doctor who looked at all her symptoms holistically. This doctor, a neurologist, looked at the whole picture, taking all of the symptoms into account. He determined that she was suffering from a disease of the nervous system caused by a genetic defect that effects the oxygen-carrying portion of blood. This disease, porphyria, effects all parts of the body.

So often, we do this to ourselves when we fail to:

  • Take into account the way different parts of our life are connected – how stress on the job results in tension and friction at home
  • See how underlying hurt feelings result in outbursts of anger
  • Understand how one manager who mistreats employees impacts morale and productivity of the entire team and sometimes an entire organization
  • Recognize that media glorification of tall, slim, European-featured women results in anorexia and self-hate in young girls who don’t fit this artificial and unreasonable standard
  • See how cruelty and injustice in one part of the world impacts the entire world

Until we are able to see connections at the individual level – seeing how the threads of the nervous system connect and impact every part of the body – as well as the global level – acknowledging that the actions of each nation impact other nations as part of the Quilt of Humanity – we will continue to undergo unnecessary surgeries, fight destructive war, and continue to be in pain.