Patch Adams at Allen Hall

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By Stephanie Taylor

On Monday night, an intrigued audience gathered in Allen Hall’s main lounge in hopes of hearing how to never have bad days again. All eyes were fixed upon the speaker, who came attired in a rainbow-colored shirt decorated with patches, a rubber ducky tie, Hawaiian shorts and different colored socks. He hasn’t had a bad day in 42 years and his speech was titled “Living a Life of Joy.”

The speaker was Hunter “Patch” Adams, the famous medical doctor and clown that believes “friendship is the best medicine.” Adams ran a small, free hospital out of his home, and for more than 30 years, he has spent his time building a large-scale free hospital in rural West Virginia.

Part of the guest-in resident program at Allen Hall, Adams will be talking again Wednesday and Thursday night at 7 p.m. at Allen Hall. His two remaining lectures are entitled, “The Joy of Caring” and “Wild Card.”

Laura Haber, program coordinator for Unit One, organized Adams’ visit because of the enthusiasm students have shown for him during his past seven visits. Adams has been controversial during past visits, which sparks excitement amongst students.

He is an engaging speaker that usually “stimulates conversation amongst the guests,” Haber said.

Adams addressed various topics in his Monday night lecture. He began by telling people to partner up with a stranger and have one person talk about wonderful things in his or her life, while the other could only make strong eye contact and hand gestures. He was trying to prove that people don’t mention the good things that occur in life because they are too fixated on the bad. Adams calls this obsession with caring only about bad situations the “pain paradigm.”

“The message of the pain paradigm is to feel bad about yourself,” he said during the lecture.

Adams said a huge factor of the “pain paradigm” is loneliness. The majority of the people in the world suffer from it.

“Loneliness is the worst experience in life – it’s the clearest, strongest, desperation in humanity,” he said.

Adams then picked two volunteers. He asked one to greet the strange person as if he was walking down the street. Adams didn’t know what would happen when the greeter stretched out his arm over the stranger and walked away chatting like they had been old buddies.

Adams later said that putting volunteers on the spot like this “shows how it is to get real deep – and that is normal caring.”

The main message that Adams wanted to present was that people should celebrate their lives. He mentioned that it’s normal to have different personalities at times. People should value their friends and the time they have spent, are spending, or are anticipating spending with them.

People should embrace the day simply by thinking “I’m alive today,” Adams said.

The crowd was very supportive and attentive to other’s concerns. Adams kept the mood relaxed with his comical personality, but still listened whole-heartedly.

Erin Deyoung, junior in LAS, found Adams inspiring through his “interaction and unexplainable love for people.”

Through Adams, she was inspired to “make a conscious decision to live life to the fullest and make a conscious decision to be happy,” Deyoung said.

Anthony Murphy, sophomore in LAS, agreed that Adams’ love for people had a strong impact on him. Murphy plans on going into law and admired Adams’ social abilities. He said he thought Adams was a great speaker for people of all majors because of his strong social skills.

Adams loves to build social connections through his annual “Clown Trips” to Russia. Compassionate people from ages eight to 88 are invited to tour some of Russia’s orphanages, hospitals and nursing homes in fun costumes in order to cheer up suffering people. This year, the trip is scheduled from Nov. 1 to Nov. 16.