The Prairie Doc Perspective

Coping with Rhubarb Pie

By Richard P. Holm M.D.

There are many reasons for unhappiness in this world.

Just turn on the news and hear all about it: there is disharmony, killing, and wars driven by hatred between families, tribes, gangs, religions, races, nations, and even political parties. And think how the economy is not so good, with poverty seemingly more prevalent. In every country there are people who go to bed hungry. Natural disasters abound, with fires, flooding, and hurricanes.

And isn’t it true that each of us are connected with a friend or family member who is dealing with divorce, alcohol, or abuse. All this while our own aging process marches on and death appears everywhere around us…

At times like these wouldn’t it be nice to have a piece of rhubarb pie? Or, as Garrison Keilor on the Prairie Home Companion also advises, maybe we could use a little more ketchup?

This is not to say that we shouldn’t fight against oppression and injustice, but the prayer says it all, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” The insight between the lines advises we should learn to savor the good things in life.

Carrying it further, to combat all that unhappiness, we need to have a sense of humor. Indeed, laughter has to be one of the best ways to cope with the troubles all of us have to face! Think how a good laugh hangs with you long afterwards. It seems to go to a part of our soul that says maybe things aren’t so bad. Laughter gives us the courage to find new sources of hope. And most powerfully, laughter is one part of the human psyche that dissipates hate and disharmony, and brings a crowd together with a shared common human experience.

During all that after-high-school-training when I was struggling to turn from a kid into an adult, my dear ol’ Dad wrote me a snail-mail letter of support every week. Each note was signed off with, “Don’t take yourself too seriously.”

I promise to try harder to do that, Dad, and maybe have myself a piece of Bee-Bop-Aroo-Bop rhubarb pie.

Dr. Rick Holm wrote this Prairie Doc Perspective for “On Call®,” a weekly program where medical professionals discuss health concerns for the general public.  “On Call®” is produced by the Healing Words Foundation in association with the South Dakota State University Journalism Department. “On Call®” airs Thursdays on South Dakota Public Broadcasting-Television at 7 p.m. Central, 6 p.m. Mountain. Visit us at 

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