Prompted by my health plan’s robo-call I pulled out the questionnaire yesterday and began to fill in dots. I saw the lines for name and such information but skipped them. Even though they were on the first page – unlike me. An act of rebellion. Many no’s were mine, only one or two yesses. The questions a prediction of my state. Of health or not, but their equation not mine. No, far from mine. Then came assessments of social habits, the ones they count: smoking, drinking, training. Training? I underlined the word and wrote my question mark nearby. Am I preparing for a marathon? A race? Is that what my life is? The years left? I refrained from writing these question or my invitation: send someone to garden with me. We will push and pull, dig and bury, kneel, squat, stand, sit, climb and crawl. We will saw and snip, pile and carry. Roll rocks so heavy they cannot be. Carried that is. Do I need training? This presumption that my world is one of a complacent not doing, an empty being-ness. A laugh, in Zen such states are considered a step to enlightenment.
Then I came to the final pages, the ones asking for commitment and labelled, “State of Change”. I nodded at their familiarity. I had heard discussions about, attended workshops on, gaining commitment for change, the how-to’s of manipulating, gauging and managing. I faced the questions from this place of knowing what is behind them. “I am ready to make changes in…” “I want to…” “I have already made changes in….and want to maintain them.” I perused the dots next to the lists of options. Read the categories they fell under. With each I looked for a sentence that applied to my personal State of Change in any of them. None. There were no offers of being happy as I am, satisfied with myself, my life, my body. It was a given that something is amiss within me and my sense of my world. There absolutely has to be some thing or things that need changing – fixing.
The pages, all of them in their entirety, spoke to dissatisfaction: expected it, searched for it, intent on digging it out from those of us who must, must, fill this booklet out. For our own good. So they, the ever caring ones, have the information they need to help us get better. To ignore their questionnaire is to throw away the chance to win! Not only a better me, but also a one hundred dollar VISA gift card! How foolish can I be to not want this? Another dissatisfaction.
Every question a measure of one. Whether I am dissatisfied with myself, or the Health Plan dissatisfied with me, or the AMA dissatisfied with one or the both of us. Somebody is not measuring up. For to not find a dissatisfaction somewhere is to fail this test. You only pass by identifying a failure. It is designed for failure. Finding fault is the only acceptable conclusion, whether big or small, one answer, several, or many. It is my failure they are requesting so they can achieve their goal – begging me to help them achieve it, for me, for my own benefit – so they can assist me in overcoming my faults and win my race.
I would have been more respectful and appreciative if theirs were an offer to assist me weeding out the idea that I am a failure in any way at all, an offer of help to root out concepts I may hold of not meeting anyone else’s measure of me. Whether it is a measure of my health, lifestyle, looks, beliefs or values. A thought that any of them might be wrong for me, at this exact moment, in this particular place of mine in the Universe.
In the end I scratched big N/A’s over the State of Change answers. They gave me no other option to answer truthfully how I feel, where the state of my readiness to change rests. And then I set down my pen, picked up the entire packet and tore it into a few big pieces that I shoved in the pile of recyclables. My smile of happiness that I had rebelled against filling in my personals.
I sighed at not having been given questions about how much time I spend in nature, how often I laugh, sing or dance each day, where I notice beauty, my level of creativity, the state of my passions, my sense of connection to whatever or whoever my Spirit of choice may be.
What a missed opportunity in focusing on my willingness to compliance. What a loss in measuring life by its length rather than its depth.