In the place of the lab coat one would expect from a doctor, Patch Adams entered the stage wearing baggy pants with orange flowers, a colorful button-up shirt and a tie-dyed tie.
He had long hair, half of which was dyed a bright shade of blue, tied in a pony tail that extended to his waist. To top it off, he had a single fork earring hanging from one of his ears.
The fact that Adams was no ordinary physician became clear to almost everyone seated in the Grande Ballroom on Feb. 15 when Adams came to speak.
This strange appearance did not deter students from staying to hear his speech. The audience nearly filled the Ballroom with the overflow extending into the commons with those who came to hear Adams’ secrets to living a happy life.
Adams didn’t always live his life with such enthusiasm. During his late teens, Adams was hospitalized three different times after attempted suicides. During his third stay, Adams made two decisions that would change the rest of his life.
First, Adams decided to study medicine to enable him to help serve humanity. During medical school, Adams came up with an idea for a hospital that was focused on helping the patients, not on profit. The hospital ran for 12 years and served roughly 15,000 patients who weren’t charged for these services.
Throughout Adams’ career, he was placed into many different situations that could bring most anyone down and make them give up. Adams, however, never quit due to the second decision he made while at the mental hospital. Adams had decided to always be happy. From that day forward, happiness was not optional for Adams.
This attitude of constant optimism could be seen throughout Adams’ speech. During one point in the presentation, Adams knocked over his water bottle that was sitting on the podium. Instead of being frustrated, he snatched it up and dumped some water on his head.
Another memorable moment of Adams’ attitude came when he was explaining his reaction to a mother and child fighting in a grocery store. While most people avoid the aisle the argument is occurring on to escape the awkwardness, Adams tries to fix the situation with humor. At this point he demonstrated his typical response to such a fight, which is pulling his pants up, sticking a cheek spreader in his mouth, putting on a set of ugly fake teeth and adding a booger and walking around with his tongue hanging out.
During his speech, Adams said that the key to being happy for the rest of your life is to get good at friendship.
“Loneliness is the worst human experience,” Adams said.
Adams recommended that this could be accomplished by taking time to get to know other people. He admitted that this was on the main reasons that he dresses in such an interesting manner. It helps trigger conversations with people who might ordinarily not talk to him.
Adams’ take on life left students who attended this presentation with a different perspective to consider.
“I thought in a lot of ways this is exactly what the school needed,” said Chris Loumeau, vice president of academics. “Everyone I’ve talked to came away with the wheels turning.”
Sophomore Rachel Lisonbee said Adam’s speech made her want to try harder to increase the amount of happiness in her life.
“We are focused so much on getting good grades and things that we think will make us happy and we miss the boat,” said senior Nathanael Moss. “We do have to take time for ourselves to get that inner peace.”