I know how ironic it appears that my last column says it’s not about the minister and then I write a column that is all about me. Perhaps what separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom is the ability to contradict ourselves constantly.
Even more so – the subject matter seems like poor material for a spiritual reflection. I had my gall bladder out. This sad sack of green depicted in medical journals is not, as my children thought, attached to the bladder but is beneath the liver. It stores bile. When I ate fat, my sad sack contracted a bit to allow for more bile to flow and digest the greasy food that I often enjoy. Conventional wisdom says when one eats a lot of fatty food, and one will develop gallstones in the gall bladder – which I did. Medical wisdom doesn’t back this up, saying the development of gallstones that cause painful gall bladder attacks could be genetic or just bad luck. No one else in my family, who also love terrible food as much as I do, has had their gall bladder out. A family achievement I resignedly now own.
My lifelong companion in my culinary exploits from funnel cakes to french fries is now gone. Sayonara, you sad sack of misery. I don’t miss it a bit. Gall bladder surgery is ones of those things where you are outright miserable for a long time before the thing is finally removed. While helpful for digestion, it’s not necessary. The excellent doctor at Valley View said my gall bladder was definitely irritated and inflamed, and that I must have been suffering for a long time before it was removed.
Has that ever happened to you, where you didn’t even notice something was making you miserable until it finally left? What sluggish green sack has been attached to you, dispensing bile, full of stones, causing you problems? Did you know you can probably get rid of it, even if you were born with it?
Or perhaps not. Systems theory asks us to go deeper, to think about what is a technical solution and what is an adaptive solution. While it’s true that my gall bladder removal has improved my overall health, that won’t be true for long if I don’t eat healthier. The removal itself is a technical solution. Like rearranging the chairs on the deck of the sinking Titanic, the removal doesn’t address the core issue. I choose to think of this in a system and think of the cause, and to think if nothing else, my body has sent me a signal decades in the making: love your body. An adaptive solution is to think about the root causes of my eating and dietary habits and introduce new ones that will change the whole body, the whole culture to change bit by bit. Adaptive solutions rarely have procedures or are measurable because they’re things like: enjoy your food. Know when you are satisfied. Recognize your body. Love your body. It’s work to get down to the root value and start the change there.
So there you have it. A reflection on my gall bladder, which has been purposely lost and hopefully very soon forgotten. For you, and the gall bladders in your life, I hope you can think deeply about what causes you misery and happiness and think to yourself when you’re sitting on the deck of the Titanic complaining about the chairs and when you’re looking out to sea to find the iceberg before its too late.