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This site is for student nurses or nurses starting out. Letters to a Young Nurse are blog posts written like letters to help you find your way and make your journey as a nurse less difficult. 

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Wisdom

Updated: Oct 12, 2023




One of my favorite writers and podcast host is Krista Tippett. I am both envious and jealous of her job interviewing great thinkers of our day. She presented what she felt are the 3 practices of wisdom that came out of our recent pandemic. A sentiment that she has often shared and carried me through the pandemic, is the fact that another person's breath could kill us! In nursing and medicine, we always had a solution for outbreaks and epidemics. We know how to prevent transmission of lots of viruses and bacteria. Throughout history, medicine has been able to eradicate bacteria and viruses with antibiotics and vaccines. But COVID 19 was new and there was not a vaccine for it for many months after this strange virus shut the world down. Not only did we not know how to treat it, but we still do not have a definitive answer as to what caused it to grow and migrate. There were also so much fake information out there in the public space on how to treat it that did not work. But we did know in the beginning of the pandemic that it was our breath and touch that caused the rapid spread of this unknown virus. For many of us, nursing changed radically. By going to work as an essential worker we were exposing our families to potential death. And the loss of touch for me was really hard. I was treating dying patients and their families. A hug, an embrace was all I had when their loved one died. And touching a dying patient's hand or forehead was a way to communicate care and kindness.


What did we learn from the pandemic? Krista gives her take on what was learned and how our connections changed. She says there are 3 practices for a life of wisdom.

  1. Calling - as Krista says we saw lots of areas of disarray and dysfunction, but the spotlight was also focused on those who did good despite the dangers of illness and death. I agree that the institutions in which we practice and offer care have changed immensely. It was unfathomable to think that hospitals did not have ventilators and basic protective equipment to keep caregivers and essential workers safe! So much bad came out but a lot of good came out of this crazy time.

  2. Live the questions - my favorite of Rainer Marie Rilke's quotes. In the midst of turmoil and uncertainty we had to be patient that scientists and researchers would find the antidote. We had to live inside of lots of unanswered questions, doubt and uncertainty. But as Krista so eloquently says, "I have found that if you are faithful to living a question, that question will be faithful back to you."

  3. Wholeness and wisdom - I love that Krista points out that perfection should never be anyone's goal for their life. It is wholeness that brings wisdom. "Becoming whole would mean that we orient together away from what is death-dealing and towards what is life-giving. I have learned that wisdom and wholeness emerge in moments precisely like ours, though ours is writ large, where human beings have to hold seemingly opposing realities in a creative tension and interplay, power and frailty, birth and death, pain and hope, mystery and conviction, brokenness and beauty, calm and fierceness, mine and yours."

Please watch the video and tell me what you think about Krista's wise words. Her amazing podcast, On Being, has taught me so much about wholeness, connection, and our relationships with each other. Socrates says it perfectly, "the only true wisdom is knowing you know nothing". Thankfully, there are people out there smarter than me who teach me new things everyday.




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