EP 2017 – The Barefoot Doctor

Tuesday 30 May 2017 | Author: Ed Roberts | Images: Susana de Dios

You ever trod on a plug or stepped on a piece of lego? It hurts more than you’d imagine in truth, don’t you think? Well, imagine doing that over and over again. Every step having that level of pain and discomfort. In those circumstances every step an individual takes must be laden with purpose and conviction. You’re either walking towards something or hoping that every time you put one foot in front of the other that the pain you experience is taken away.

4_Sasall_bend

 

Away from the past. Away from what you know. Away from those who understand why you continue to walk. But for Sassall, this wasn’t the playground. He wasn’t walking away from the bully who stole his marbles or taunted his youthful longing for the sea. In that moment walking away would be wise, commendable and mature. But Sassall’s issues are not so simple and infantile.

Yet, the way he addresses the situation is to not address it at all. To pretend the trauma just isn’t there and simply “walk away”. The man a community turned to in their hours of need was incapable of coming to his own aid. This is a wound he can not cauterize, stitch or plaster up. And so, he walks. And so the pain festers. The squalor of the mind under lock and key.

The grief that becomes pain, that becomes depression, that becomes a numbness to life, that becomes…

1_Sassall_man I loved

Dr John Sassall died in china in 1982. He’s been learning the ways of the traditional barefoot doctor. Although the details of his last moments and hours are lost, this is where his mortal story ends, his legacy as the every man’s Faust of the 20th century lives on in the words and images of Berger and Mohr. The paradox of A Fortunate Man is how Sassall acts as an example to be lauded and a warning to be met with caution. The General Practitioner whose search for the universal helped all those around him, but whose existentialism made the final chapter of his story one of isolation, loss and heartbreak. Learn from Sassall, accept yourself. Accept who you are, what being you means and go out there… and be happy.

3_Sassall _overworked

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