When I was a kid, one of my favourite things was getting lost on my bike. My two best friends and I would set off and take random lefts and rights until we had no idea where we were. Being lost was one of the scariest feelings I have ever had, and yet, together, we thrilled in it, partly because we always knew that together we'd make it back.
Getting back, however, was never the point; discovery was. New streets with weird names, different cars, more grass than concrete, these were all intoxicating to an urban kid wanting to see beyond the safe streets of the walk from home to school. And, wow, did we have some stories to share the next day.
Today I'm sharing some grown-up stories - perspectives shared by the Wellthcare Explorers in their first bike ride in search of Wellth, a health-related value that may be created by intimate communities. In this first meeting of the Explorers they were asked what intrigued them about the idea of "Wellth" and what questions they wanted to answer together.
I was struck this week by an insightful essay in the Financial Times on the new £188m library that has been opened in Birmingham, England. The bit that got me was a quote from Brian Gambles, the library’s project director:
“When the public library service started in the 1850s, it was about how to give opportunities to those who didn’t have opportunities to learn through the formal system. Over time we lost that and the library became about transaction, about finding and borrowing products. That transactional function is withering as there are now so many more media than just the book.” (Bold by me)
There are parallels to health and health care here. Increasingly available health care has given people the “opportunity” to enjoy good and sustained health. But as we have become more and more accustomed to health care’s availability, perhaps we have started to take it for granted such that we see it as a mere “transaction” – I’m sick, give me something.
Seeing health care as a transaction makes health an end in itself. But that doesn’t make any sense. What matters is what you do with your life assisted by good health. Going back to the library, although one can learn for the sake of learning, more often than not we learn in order to share and apply our knowledge; we do things with it. If health becomes an end in itself, we lose perspective on what it’s for.
Earlier in the essay, Gambles says: