So we’re anticipating the loss of yet another psychiatry consult service mascot, Alice and of course Clive, the forever-in-the-egg next generation. The before and after images of them were essentially the same after my usual trip to the gift shop for the helium infusion.
This was the same fate of our previous mascot, Nigella, who eventually met the same end.
As I was walking Alice back to the consult office, the Chief Medical Officer passed me and chuckled. I said, “It’s a long story.” And as usual, the walk was humbling, which has been the point of having a mascot after all–as a reminder of the importance of getting small. In other words, our mascots have been the tangible symbols of mindful humility.
One of the odd characteristics of our mascots is that they need frequent visits to the gift shop where they were born. It occurs to me that humility can be viewed as a gift. I’m aware of the tendency for my ego to do the opposite of what happens to our mascots–it tends to swell up. When the mascot contracts, I know it’s time for a walk, a reflective walk in which I remember how important it is to remember I’m not as important as I think I am. Humility always makes me think of humanism, maybe just because they sort of sound alike, but they may share the same linguistic root for all I know. I could google it–but I procrastinate.
The slow leakage of helium in a toy balloon can foster humility. This is probably one of the undiscovered laws of physics. You’re welcome.
I’ve come to consider walking the mascot a sort of mindfulness practice, similar to the walking meditation. Incidentally, I shared my thoughts about my own daily mindfulness practice recently with the first year residents at one of their psychotherapy lectures, as a guest of my mindfulness teacher, Bev Klug, MA, LMFT, and Director of Mindfulness Programs at the UI Hospitals and Clinics. I shared my memory of who I was when I started the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) class, and my perception of who I am presently–evolving in front of them even as I spoke.
Anyway, we’re at a crossroads of sorts. Do we get another Nigella, another Alice, and continue the humbling, mindful walks? Or do we get something more durable, that won’t always be on the point of expiring so it can sit in the corner of our staff consult office, sit and preside in swollen perpetuity–like pride?