Anger, Reality, and Planet CAN

 The discussion around Ann’s post below, “To the Acupuncture Community”,  got me thinking about a discussion I’ve been wanting to have with you all for a while now.

 First, about anger:  I think everyone who posted below has a valid point.  Anger is energizing, anger gets things done, anger perpetuates separation, anger in the long run may not be good for your health.  All true.  For myself, thinking about anger, I’ve come around to the perspective that Claude Larre and Elisabeth Rochat explain in their gorgeous little book The Seven Emotions:  emotions are essentially gross movements of qi.  Which I interpret to mean as:  anger is like the weather. It’s not good and it’s not bad; it’s just there.

 What’s interesting about anger vis-a-vis the acupuncture world and my own particular trajectory is that my anger was/is real. Whether it’s good or bad for me or for anybody else, it’s genuine.  And so much in the acupuncture world is neither real nor genuine; think about the decades of promises that insurance companies are going to embrace acupuncture any day now, or the expectations that schools offer their students about what a promising, up-and-coming career acupuncture is, or just the way Acupuncture Today presents “acupuncture news”.  I think anger was useful for me in part because it got me back in touch with reality.

 And that gets me to the discussion I want to have with you. I think the ultimate momentum of the community acupuncture movement is not anger but a connection to reality — particularly the reality of relationships with patients. Anger got me going, but what sustained my activism was the relationships I formed with my community of patients.  As both Jordan and Diana alluded to below, those patients are people who really, really need acupuncture, and providing it to them can make an acupuncturist feel useful at an entirely new level. I’ve been wondering for a while now how it is affecting all of you out there to be seeing thirty, forty, seventy patients a week, many of whom probably never had acupuncture before, many of whom are probably struggling with serious health issues, most of whom are trying to get by as a low or middle income person in America.  This is a different world than the world that acupuncture school presents to you when you’re a student. It’s not only different because it’s the world of money and business and making a living, it’s a world inhabited by real people with real problems who really, really need you.

 One of the reasons that I’m so psyched about our community here is not that only that it means that more people like my family and my neighbors are getting acupuncture, but it means that I have people to share my reality with.  It’s an acutely poignant, intensely fulfilling reality — the reality of helping people get back to work after an injury so that they can support their families, of having patients burst into tears of gratitude for pain relief, of hearing from people that acupuncture is like magic and that it has changed their lives. And not just a few, fortunate people, but LOTS and LOTS of people.  When I contrast this to the reality of the rest of the healthcare system — including lots of frustrated, frightened, isolated, underemployed acupuncturists — I feel like I’m living on a different planet. It’s a lovely planet, and it’s especially lovely to have lots of other community acupuncturists to share it with . Moses and I got into a conversation the other day at work about how watching patients get better is like a drug. It’s addictive, you can’t enough of it, and at this point I’m not sure I could live without it.  So this is what I’m wondering — how are the rest of you doing with living on Planet CAN? Is it a difficult adjustment? Has it changed you? Are you hooked, habituated, ruined for life?
Author: lisafer

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  1. ARP (Anger Reality and Planetcan)

    No question. This (Planet CAN) is a fun reality to be apart of. I especially enjoy stepping off the uncomfortable pedestal of being a “provider” and more like the band leader that someone alluded to recently.

    But even that analogy isn’t quite right….because I simply put in needles and disappear into the woodwork, letting the room and its inhabitants carry on with the chorus for forty five minutes to an hour, stepping back in only occasionally to hit a few good notes.

    Maybe I’m more like someone who starts a Critical Mass bike ride…getting the whole thing going, but then that whole thing moves by itself.

    Anger – If you are energized by anger in a way that inspires righteous action – go for it, but be careful. Anger is like a rocket ship. It can take you quickly to your destination, if you don’t burn up going through the atmosphere. In any case, anger obviously has many valid perspectives.


    p.s. Okay what’s going on with this website…first there is Lisa’s post which goes out to Pluto past the right margin, and now I’m trying to beat CAPTCHA, but it is refusing my answers which seem pretty hard to miss today? I am about to try for my fourth answer….
    wholesom_….answer is “e” right?

  2. Living on Planet CAN

    Yes, Lisa, I am happily hooked, habituated, and ruined for life!  I can’t tell you how grateful I am to have found your Acupuncture Today articles and CAN.  I can’t imaging practicing any other way.  I feel like I’ve gone through yet another evolution; one that has left me with the “opposable thumbs” of acupuncture! I like when you say:  I think the ultimate momentum of the community acupuncture movement is not anger but a connection to reality —  So true. Melonie (Inner Source CA, Florida) ——— To love and be loved is to feel the sun from both sides. -Anonymous

  3. All of the above

    “Has it changed you? Are you hooked, habituated, ruined for life”

     All of the above, and I haven’t even started yet, LOL, but I did have the experience of group treating large numbers of low income patients at work comp clinics. My bosses were making money off these patients, and money was the main reason they opened these clinics.  I wasn’t naive to that, but for me the joy was in treating people who would never be able to afford acupuncture or even be exposed to it otherwise.  I was paid a decent day rate, and it was nice to have a steady income, but I knew it wouldn’t last, and it didn’t.  I’m so happy to find CAN because now I get to treat the people who really need me, and I can earn a living, and it won’t be taken away by government budget cuts.


    When I was in school I took the maximum number of externships allowed at Samahan low income clinic in National City CA and the free senior clinic.  The school clinic was never a fit for me, I didn’t like talking for hours in a little room.  I liked the busy group environments. Community acupuncture feels like a perfect fit for me.

  4. This was really helpful. 

    This was really helpful.  For me, anger is better than sitting around in despair, because at least it’s energy in motion.  But I usually go from despair to looking for the light (ie., truth/reality) and moving in that direction, taking steps one at a time.  Anger generally gets side-stepped; I’m not sure why, but this is what works for me. 

    And yes, I’m hooked!