Saturday, November 04, 2006

Political side of Patch Adams

Halloween night I went to hear a talk by Patch Adams, held here at the University of Rochester and generously sponsored by the Neilly Series. Patch, as you may already know, is a healthcare physician, professional clown, and founder of the Gesundheit! Institute, a holistic health facility emphasizing laughter and humor as an essential part of the healing process. Robin Williams played Patch Adams in the 1998 movie titled with the eponym.

But this night Patch was more than Robin could have ever portrayed on the big screen. Dressed much like his character was in the movie, a ponytail down to the middle of his back and a long earring dangling from one ear, Patch was quite the treat... or trick, depending on your politics.

The enormous Strong Memorial Hospital, a top-rated medical training facility, is just around the corner from my office. The auditorium was packed full of med students and Patch was really trying to get them 'fired-up'. Forget capitalism and making the big bucks, find your calling, then just go out and start a free clinic or something. Give it away and keep giving, don't worry, things will work out, the world’s full of neglected soles that are just in need of love. This was the message, sometimes delivered softly with years of obvious experience and sometimes quite loudly with a profound fierceness, as Patch Adams stepped right into the audience.

He even told one young lady during the Q&A session, who asked him how she was to pay-off her $200,000 student loans, if she was to take his advice," to "be creative, the people that loaned you that money had lots more where that came from." I about fell out of my seat, it was wild! Oh ya', I got to see a political side of Patch Adams that I really didn't know existed!