A bookaholic speaks out

March 1, 2012

Philosophical, Wisdom

The wise doctor will want to know if his patient feels loved, safe and secure.

by Irene Conlan — 

Hi, my name is Irene and I am a bookaholic. Yes, I truly am. I cannot get enough of them. I have books secretly stashed in filing cabinets, on top of the piano, the kitchen table, on the floor beside my wingback chair, in the seat of the car and, more often than not, in my purse.

I sometimes read two or more books at a time — no not simultaneously. You know what I mean. I read a chapter of this one, and then I pick up another and read a few pages. Somehow I manage to keep them straight in my mind, although sometimes I forget where I was and read a passage again, thinking it sounded familiar. I learned to read before I started school and have been a bookaholic ever since.

I even love the smell of a library — especially old libraries. There is nothing else that smells quite like it — musty old pages, mixed with dust and ancient ink. I actually loved the old card catalog system and miss being able to browse through the cards, trying to find the ones that would lead me to just the right section and shelf that held the books about my subject of interest.

Our little town had a very small card catalog section tucked in the side of a small reading room, so imagine my excitement when I discovered a room the size of my house filled with those wonderful dog-eared, smudged and worn cards the first time I visited the university library. I was in heaven. Searching on a computer is just not the same.

A high point of my college days was studying at the Library of Congress, where you sit at a carrel in the main reading room, turn in your request for books and have them delivered to your desk. I would have moved in if I could have, but they do not allow overnight guests. Working in that magnificent room where so many icons of history had worked was a thrill for me.

My idea of a good time is sitting in Barnes and Noble with a cup of hot coffee, looking through the just-published books.

The point is that I read a lot of books. I know a lot of “stuff.” But the question is, “Do I have wisdom?” Knowing a lot of facts does not necessarily mean I will make a good decision or take the right path. “Wisdom is a deep understanding and realization of people, things, events or situations, resulting in the ability to apply perceptions, judgments and actions in keeping with this understanding.” (Wikipedia)

Wisdom implies intellectual and emotional maturity and an ability to patiently dig beneath the surface to know what is really going on. It is to know when the time is right to take action, rather than impulsively charge forward. It is to know when to speak and when to be silent, when to help and when to walk away. Some people call wisdom “common sense,” but there is nothing common about it.

In health care, it is the difference between knowing the symptoms and knowing what is at the root of the symptoms. An “intelligent” physician or other health care professional will ask questions about the presenting symptoms and, upon looking at them all, will make a diagnosis and prescribe a plan of treatment.

A “wise” doctor or health care professional will get this same information and then set about discovering what else is going on with his patients. What are the stresses? What is happening at home? What is the patient’s belief about his own health? (For example: Does he believe he will have a heart attack because his father died at this same age from a heart attack? Does she believe she will have breast cancer because her mother and a sister had breast cancer?) Do they have adequate nutrition, or do they rely on junk food and fast food from the drive-through for their meals? What do they do to relax, or do they relax at all? The wise doctor will want to know if his patient feels loved, safe and secure.

So how do we get wisdom? Confucius said, “By three methods we may learn wisdom: first, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third, by experience, which is the bitterest.”

I am a bookaholic. I am not looking for treatment for this condition, but I am looking for a wise doctor who reflects before he gets out his prescription pad.


Irene Conlan has a master’s degree in nursing, is a certified hypnotherapist and a certified past-life regression therapist in Scottsdale, Ariz. www.theselfimprovementblog.com or ireneconlan@gmail.com.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 31, Number 1, Feb/Mar 2012.

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