Jeffrey Saltzman's Blog

Enhancing Organizational Performance

May you find what you are looking for – an Update

with 2 comments

[tweetmeme source=”jeffreysaltzman”]

Described in this posting from just about a year ago is the case of Filipino nurses who were charged with endangering the welfare of their patients by walking off the job. To provide some closure, a court has now ruled that the nurses 13th Amendment rights had been violated by the nursing home that they worked for. Yes, that is the 13th Amendment to the USA Constitution that prohibits involuntary servitude. You see the nursing home in which they worked had clearly violated their word, in terms of working conditions and salary and then tried to keep the nurses working there against their will when they chose to depart, a violation in the court’s opinion of the prohibition against slavery. All charges have been dropped.


“May you find what you are looking for” is described as the 3rd in a series of 3 increasingly severe Chinese proverbs that are considered to be curses. (The actual origins are somewhat murky). Finding what you are looking for is a curse? How is that possible? Does finding what you are looking for create a situation where you no longer need to strive, no longer need to have any initiative – is that the curse? If you find what you are looking for is the meaning of your life gone, the notion being that humans need to have constant goals, need to feel that they can always do more, can always improve and if not they become “empty”? Is that why you read about so many unhappy rich and famous people – because they have found it and have no where to go? While this may be the case in the ultimate sense, in our more ordinary day-to-day lives I don’t buy it. You may find parts of what you are looking for but you are of course never done.

NOVA, a series that appears on PBS recently ran a segment titled “Family that walks on all fours”. It was about the handwalkers, a couple in Turkey whose 5 children could only walk in a quadrupedal fashion, moving along with the assistance of both their hands and feet. Any attempt at walking on just their feet had them falling over in short order. Through MRI brain scans and genetic research it was determined that the children suffered from a recessive mutation of a gene which caused the cerebellum, the portion of the brain that controls balance and locomotion, to be vastly undersized. The father of the impoverished family living in rural Turkey passionately states that he would give everything he has, including literally the clothes he was wearing, if his children could walk in a normal fashion. May you find what you are looking for. Given the remoteness of the family the children never had any kind of medical treatment or physical therapy for their condition. One of the researchers contacted a physical therapist who brought a simple walker for the children to use and installed parallel bars that they could exercise upon and practice their balance. After a year of therapy the children mostly in an independent fashion were bipedal, walking, albeit a bit shakily, on two feet. In an interview, one of the daughters of the couple who looked to be in her late 20s or so, indicated that she desired to go out and meet people and find a husband so that she could have a family and children of her own. I don’t think her life would become empty if that came to pass. May you find what you are looking for.

Here in NY there has been almost a constant shortage of skilled nurses for as long as I can remember. Hospitals and other care facilities have long search high and low for nurses to work here in the metro area. Several institutions have recruited from abroad and have had particular luck recruiting in the Philippines by offered signing bonuses and even in some cases providing housing. A striking article the New York Times describes Philippine nurses who now await trail on charges of endangering the welfare of 5 chronically ill children and 1 terminally ill man. It is claimed that they endangered the patients in their care by walking off their jobs without sufficient notice. This was done they stated because of broken promises and shabby working conditions. (If the conditions were shabby for the nurses, I can’t help but wonder what they are like for the patients). The patients suffered no harm however. Each of the 10 Filipino nurses could face a year in jail and the loss of their nursing licenses – their means of sustaining themselves. Lets make the assumption (a fairly safe bet) that people who enter the nursing professions do so because of good intentions, a desire to help others and to care for those of us who are in need, and not because it is a path to quick riches. For these nurses to walk off the job without notice and potentially endanger patients, the conditions are likely to have been severe. And while it is hard to know based on the information in the paper, the prosecutor may be barking up the wrong tree and should be looking at the conditions in the location where the nurses were from. It seems like the nurses are simply looking for a place where they can ply their trade in a professional manner and care for their patients. May they find what they are looking for.

There is an old fable that has a mid-wife attending the birth of two children within a few hours of each other. One child born was the king’s son, the other the son of the local village baker. The mid-wife (due to reasons that I don’t think you really want to know about) switched the 2 children at birth just to see what would happen. The king’s replacement son, with the heritage of a baker, grew up with all the benefits that you would expect a king’s son to have and grew into a noble ruler. The baker’s replacement son, with the heritage of nobility, grew up to be one of the best bakers that the village had known under the tutelage of his loving father. May they both find what they are looking for.

Finding what you are looking for, finding contentment, in my estimation is not a curse and never finding what you are looking for, not even a part is no blessing.

© 2010 by OrgVitality, Jeffrey M. Saltzman. All rights reserved.

Visit OV:

Written by Jeffrey M. Saltzman

October 18, 2009 at 11:31 am

2 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. I believe the intent of the curse was more along the lines of the Monkey’s Paw. Either the desire the person wants would have unintended and disasterous consequences or the desire itself was unhealthy for the person who wanted it. The person leveling the curse would know this while the person who had the desire would not.


    March 20, 2012 at 12:55 pm

  2. You should consider the society in which this “curse” came to be. We are so used to free speech. Those who are not, have a need to be subtle. The power in this curse comes from what is left unsaid.

    Consider a medieval war. Some warlord has entered a village, and is asking where the other army might be . The questioning might be rough, especially for those believed to support the other side. In such cases, one can’t curse them properly. Any hatred, criticism or complaint will get you killed. So you say something that seems nice on the surface. “May you find what you’re looking for.” (May you find the other army indeed – it might be too tough for you to handle. . .)

    And some fight to become emperor – which is not so fun for those who gets in the way. A warlord is used to orders like “fight that battle or die trying!”. He has won so far, but it surely must be better on top and simply issue these orders. “May you find what your’e looking for!” Once on the top, the game changes. He must worry and plan for what happens if his generals indeed “die trying”. And all sorts of coups that might come from within. Officially, an emperor is all-powerful. In reality, the choice is between meeting expectations, or meeting assassins and armies. “May you find what you’re looking for . . .”

    More generally: “May you find what you’re looking for. There will be consequences you didn’t think of. I neither like nor support you, but I’ll have the last laugh when your quest comes to its surprise ending.


    October 30, 2013 at 8:58 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: