This post written by Philip Li-Wei Julio Chen, Mississauga, ON. Excerpt from "The IDEAL WAY to Cook: Food for Thought".
Flipping through the pages of a seemingly perfect spring edition of Martha Stewart's Living magazine, one finds innumberable recipes, with lists of natural ingredients alongside cooking instructions. What is not mentioned in such lists, but remains of great importance to the resulting taste, are the chef's experiences, those of his/her assistants, the available kitchenware and the overall condition of the kitchen under which these ingredients are prepared.
While studying Health Sciences at university, I similarly examined the "recipe" for "health". In doing so, I was instructed to put on a pair of biomedical lenses, filtering out personal experiences, the available resources and social conditions. Moreover, this biomedical lens prompted me to mechanically dissect the concept of health into pathological terms, cell counts and malfunctioning body parts. And finally, to discard the pith - the person - as a whole.
My experiences with people who have different abilities and needs have opened up my eyes and helped me to recognize that beyond the absence of disease, health is a state of well-being, deeply connected to engaging human connections, meaningful occupation, the environment, a lived spiritualityand one's right to expression and curiosity. By putting "the person" back into the recipe, we are able to focus on everyone's unique abilities and strengths, as well as understand that being alive and living are two vastly different flavours.
Furthermore, working with people with different abilities in therapeutic programs has taught me just how grand life is. A vivid memory comes to mind: a young adult succeeding in writing his own name independently for the first time in his life exclaims, "Oh, look, I can write my name! I can do it!" In this fast-paced world, we have forgotten to appreciate our body and mind. We take our different abilities for granted; we have forgotten to celebrate.
Yes, you can do it! Celebrate every accomplishment, big or small.
Appreciate your mind and your body.
And go ahead, take a big bite out of life and savour health in its entirety and the joy of living.