The Dream

Post Written by Guest Blogger, Elliott Wortham

On the heels of an adequately grueling week at the hospital, I found myself sitting quietly in the Cleveland Museum of Art.  Within the walls of the architecturally striking building are nestled two objects of growing affection, a 16th century “prayer nut” and a lone Salvador Dali painting entitled The Dream (1931).  It is the latter work of art that drew me inward that snowy day, and later, to consider the impact such self-reflection has on our ability to meaningfully impact those around us.

In typical Dali style, the painting’s dream-like form expresses human desire and the difficulty we have understanding our subconscious feelings.  After a week, engrossed in projects with an overarching objective to create meaningful solutions for healthcare problems, Dali reminded me to self-reflect.  Later, I considered the impact personal self-reflection has on healthcare.  Do we benefit the search for solutions to our healthcare problems by learning about our inner desires and fears? Does understanding our subconscious feelings positively impact our ability to offer solutions?  While we talk a lot about designing systems for other people, we spend far less time understanding ourselves.

Great leadership, positive change, and sound design all start with one thing, an understanding of context, right? If that’s the case, doesn’t it make sense to work to understand the core of ourselves, which includes the context (social, emotional, financial, etc.) in which we reside?  After all, we infuse ourselves into the context of others’ lives as a product of the work we do!  Dali obviously thought this level of understanding the self was worthy, even if unattainable!

We seemingly forget the importance of knowing ourselves as we try to make a meaningful difference in the world.  Dali reminded me at the museum, that healthcare solutions will exist to the extent we understand who we are – our inner desires, fears, and some of those subconscious feelings with which Dali seemed infatuated!  Perhaps by growing less paternal as a system, and by thusly working toward valuing greater personal autonomy, we’ll find ourselves working together, cohesively, solving a slew of other common issues along the way.