Speed

Here is a beautiful piece of prose that I have found really helpful over the last year – well worth a read and some time to reflect:

 

SPEED

 

Speed has compensations.  Speed gets noticed.  Speed is praised by others. Speed is self-important.  Speed absolves us.  Speed means we don’t really belong to any particular thing or person we are visiting, and thus appears to elevate us above the ground of our labours.  When it becomes all-consuming, speed is the ultimate defence, the antidote to stopping and really looking.

 

If we really saw what we were doing and who we had become, we feel we might not survive the stopping and the accompanying self-appraisal. So we don’t stop, and the faster we go, the harder it becomes to stop.  We keep moving on whenever any form of true commitment seems to surface.  Speed is also a warning, a throbbing insistent indicator that some cliff edge or other is very near, a sure diagnostic sign that we are living someone else’s life and doing someone else’s work.

 

But speed saves us the pain of stopping; speed can be such a balm, a saving grace, a way we tell ourselves, in conscious ways, that we are really not participating.

 

The great tragedy of speed ….is that very soon we cannot recognise anything or anyone who is not travelling at the same velocity as we are…….We start to lose sight of the bigger, slower cycles that underlie our work.

 

We start to lose sight of family members, especially children, or those who are ill or infirm, who are not flying through the world as quickly and determinedly as we are.
 We forget that our sanity is dependent on relationships with longer more patient cycles extending beyond the urgencies and madness of the office.

 

A friend falls sick and in that busyness we find their interruption of our frantic lives frustrating and distracting. On the surface we extend our sympathies, but underneath we are already moving in a direction that takes us far away.  We flee the situation even if we are sending flowers every day; we rejoin, thankfully, the world that is on the go, on the move, untouched by mortality.

However, through whatever agency it arrives in our lives – a broken limb, the loss of a loved one, the collapse of our business, a moment of humiliation in the doorway of a meeting room – our identities built on speed immediately fall apart and disintegrate.  We find ourselves suddenly alone and friendless, strangers even to ourselves.

 

David Whyte “Crossing the Unknown Sea”.

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Reconnecting Clinicians to Healing

In the USA, doctors have the highest rate of suicide of any profession. In the UK, a similar picture unfolds. Why is it, that 69% of all physicians suffer with depression at least one time in their career? It could be because of the high workload, high stress, high demand, an increased sense of professional isolation coupled with a growing powerlessness to effect change to the systems that often work against the real healing of people.

 

I think all of those reasons are there for sure. But I also think that as doctors become increasing slaves of a system, they lose touch with themselves, the things that make them unique, and are expected instead to act like robots, or cogs in a machine that get people just well enough to return to work and be of benefit to the economy. We have managed to disconnect clinicians from their own sense of humanity. But the art of healing is so much more holistic and profound than the science of clinical medicine.

 

23ec23_61a12bbd059d4b3bbb53f656c3e7eaf7.jpg_srz_p_490_490_75_22_0.5_1.2_0_jpg_srzIf I were to design a health centre, it would not look like any of the places I work in. They are all far too clinical and are probably not very conducive to healing. For starters, there would be a whole lot more natural light, with beautiful artwork (I have some amazing pieces in my room now, by a brilliant local artist, Emma Hamilton) and sense of a continuum with the landscape. There would be places for people to talk with each other around tables where food and drink could be served, isolation broken and community restored. There would be places to encourage exercise or mindfulness through colouring. My room would have a piano in the corner and it would be filled with art, poems, quotes and there would be huge windows with magnificent views of the sea.

 

And my consultations (which could be conducted outside whenever possible!) would use not just my clinical knowledge, but would reflect more of iu-1who I am. Even now, I spend a lot of time laughing with my patients. Laughter is so good! It is healing in and of itself. There would be time for music. I would sing to my patients (they might well leave faster!)……Every doctor I know has talents, gifts, hobbies, and hidden depths that are rarely used when they encounter their patients. I wonder how much more effective we might be as healers, if we reconnected with the God-given sense of who we are and what makes our own hearts sing.

 

I love the story of the Obstetrician from Pittsburgh, who sings to every baby he delivers. What a beautiful thing. What might we all do more of as clinicians, if we thought of ourselves as healers? What spaces might we create? What might our consultations become? I wonder if we did this…..would we be less depressed and more happy in our work? And might we be more effective in gifting wellness to our communities?

 

 

 

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Making Meetings Better

Tweet I’m not a great meetings person. I just generally find them tedious. I lose concentration easily, I get distracted, I end up thinking about a whole lot of things that maybe I shouldn’t be thinking about or eat far too many biscuits and then feel bloated and guilty at the same time! Meetings and [Continue Reading …]