January 25, 2013

What is Healing? ~ Jill Zekanis

Growing up with variables as a constant actually shaped my life.

The world is full of variables and constants. In the study of mathematics and science, these two things play off of one another and together in equations and formulas.

In nature, they are interwoven. Seasons are constants, yet each year the season may look different from the previous year. Plant types are constants and their ability to adapt produces variables in their chemistry.

In physics, there is a law that to every action there is an opposite and equal reaction. This law is a constant, but the reaction can be the variable, what some people may call karma.

I grew up in a sea of variables, my family was the constant. There was variety because we relocated a lot. By the time I was 12 years old, I had lived in seven different homes and went to more schools than that. By then, the variable, relocating, had changed to a constant for me.

Some of my friends along the way had never relocated. In fact, they had lived in the same place, as did their parents and their grandparents; I found this fascinating. I wondered what it would be like to always live in the same place, have the same friends and do the same things.

For the most part, I observed that people who lived in these constants did not like variables.

Growing up with variables as a constant actually shaped my life.

I learned that there are stories, but that there is the ability to change the story. I learned that it is okay and fun to try new experiences. I learned it is ok to fail, that it is ok to not be perfect because in a sea of variables, what is perfection?

I learned what goes around, comes around and actions speak louder than words.

I learned that language is a variable, and people in different parts of the country have different reference points. I learned customs that are constants can become variables over time, according to the person and the translation.

In my work, initially, I was all about the constants. I needed to learn the form first. Form, in the healing realm, is a constant: a set of rules, procedures, and protocols. I made it my goal to learn as many forms as possible in the realm of healing.

Having observed results from my own experiences and the experiences of other, I have learned that there are variables in healing. This, for me, is the art. I also think the variable is part of the mystery.

The journey of learning about constants and variables continues for me.

What heals one person, does not heal another. What medicine works for one person, can be poison to another. What one person thinks is a healing constant, another regards as bogus.

There is a woman I see every week who has dementia; in her life, I am not sure there are any constants.

It is an amazing experience to witness her ability to become “new” again in 10 minutes—that is, she cannot remember most things after about 10 minutes. Her speech is a mixture of “I love you” and words strung together that make no sense.

However, she is so passionate in her expression that it does make sense in a way. For me, listening to her speak at times is like being in the audience of a Shakespeare play. And so, she is a constant source of joy, to myself and those in her presence, at least most of the time, because there are the other times that are the variable.

In my world these days, I see many more variables and less constants as I go deeper into the question of, “What is healing?”


Jill Zekanis, writer, artist, RN by trade, hospice evangelist and advocate of self-determination in health, life and death. A lover of nature and life. A student of self-expression, gratitude and yoga, who lives in Portland, Oregon. [email protected]



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Assistant Ed. Rebecca Schwarz

Ed: Bryonie Wise

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