The Ripple Effect

Every drop of effort counts,

Don’t underestimate the power of the mind,

Love, then trust, and see what you will find?

For the world is not what it seems on the surface.

 

Those who have the courage are the ones that beam,

Using energy, inspiration and gratitude as a team,

 

With positivity, we can only but learn,

Growing like a fern,

Unfolding and understanding,

That in fact “to try our best” is to actually “to be” our best,

 

Beckoning success as our “fate”,

Accepting this journey in “flow-state”,

 

For after all,

To be fast is really to be slow,

And to question wisely, is perhaps to know.

 

26-6-17   Taking the plane home after after an inspiring journey to Melbourne indulging in the world of resuscitation and trauma management at Andy Buck’s ETM course (i.e. th Emergency Trauma Management course). I have come away with a multidisciplinary, multi background “total immersion educational experience” in trauma management. As part of this one of the highlights was meeting some wonderful and inspiring people coming from different stages of training (residents through to experienced and creative consultants educators in EM and Anaesthetics) and coming from different backgrounds of practice (eg. rural GP anaesthetists, Public Health anthropologists, experienced life-style oriented career medical officers) who are perhaps helping us lead health care into better directions.

Thanks for a great course everyone – it really hit the spot! 🙂



 

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Two Poems for champions of my heart

Equality

 

We are all equal,

There is no sequel,

For we have only this one life.

 

Heaven or strife,

This is our choice,

 

So use your voice,

And your heart,

To rise above the dirt.

 

Make use of your mirth,

That heals up the scars and the pain,

 

Let it flow, let it rain,

 

For perhaps solace lies in the “insane”,

Who can feel the beauty of the life that we live,

Giving of ourselves without a seconds thought.

 

 

16-6-16

 

At the moment my world is inundated with study, work and exams.

As I am progressing through the arduous and challenging joruney of completing specialist training in Emergency medicine, most aspects of my life outside medicine have taken a back seat, to dedicate focus to wards the path of learning the matrix of what is is to be a specialist. I am doing what I feel is effective, and and have learned to possibly be helpful, such as reading widely in books, attending practice exams, studying alone and in groups. I have sometimes been sharing the highs and lows with others on the path, but mostly experiencing them alone, in a solitude that will never be known to the world at large (apart from in daring writings such at this).

Today I learned of the exam results being released for the OSCE (objective, skills and clinical examination), and it is with great joy and simultaneous sadnesss that I heard of the success and failure of friend who are dear and near to me in both my heart, but in terms of the journey that all fellowship candidates are on, past and future.

In the joy of one particular friend I breathed a breath of relief, and for others I shared in a gasp of despair. It seems unfair that some individuals who have such a heart, such skill, and such potential for this profession, have not made it through (this time) final gate of a greater than 10 year training. Whilst this exam processess is well intentioned, and designed to empower these very qualities, it can arguabley, on occasions, be seen to perhaps fall short of what it set out to achieve.

As a researcher in education systems, and someone who has been observing their own progression through various stages of a very diverse journey of education in the arts, sciences, surgery, research and now emergency medicine, I am acutely aware that “assement” and “qualification” are but a prediction tools of relative certaintainty, but are simultanously not gold standards in this objective. In my own endeavours to help improve education and assesment systems, I’ve realised that training, sitting exams, and passing are but steps on a much greater journey, in which the destination can perhaps never fully be realised, for it is ever-evolving.

So then how do we evaluate the concepts of failure, or success?

Is it not an imaginary line (albeit, calculated through a process and mechanism), on a continuum of life-long learning?

Perhaps in specialist training, and many other forms of education for that matter, this line forms a both an psychological, and actual barrier to progression. I wonder how well the impact of examinations correlate to the end product of achieving skilled, well rounded individuals?

These may seem like esoteric questions, but to an educational researcher they questions that could potentially form a life’s work.

 

Coping with Success and Failure – through the relationships we make along the way

As a friend who was studying for his own specialist exam in another field, Anaesthetics, once reminded me “failure is an event, not a person” (taken from a line provided by personal development legend Zig Ziglar). This advice came in incredibly handy when I sat, and failed, my own big exam, the fellowship “written” exam. I have now been studying for a whole year since then, whilst working, getting over the loss of esteem, and building an entirley new strategy. If I pass this time around in August, I have the opportunity and privelidge to sit the same exam, the OSCE, that I am celebrating and mourning the results of with my friends, who are at this next stage.

It seems like a very long and uncertain journey, and perhaps this is why the final result will be so very special.

However, in the meantime there is so much pain, and equivalent joy. The joy partly lies in the hope of achieving what I set out to do, partly in feeling the success of others, but perahps the most guaranteed joy of all, is the wonderful relationships that are forged along the way – irrespective of outcome.

When studying for this exam we are in positions of vulnerability and humilty that most would not actively choose to occupy. Some, perhaps, will quickly forget how uncomfortable it feels to not definitely know if one can make it “there”, whilst others will never forget, no matter how well they perform, for it is in their nature to help others on the path.

Two of these such people, who are always there to help others, ironically did not pass the the OSCE this time around (and I’m sure there will be more good candidates to come, who also didn’t pass, for the OSCE has a pass rate often hovers around the 50%, or less, mark).

Perhaps you also know someone like this, someone who is clearly capable and desrving of such a pass? Perhaps it is even you, the reader.

Whatever the case, the following poem wholeheartedly dedicated to all of you, and all of “us”, life-long learners, who courageously endeavour to live, learn and love.

 

Wisdom, compassion and humility

 

Champions of wisdom, compassion and humility,

Using a pathway to divinity,

That has guided us thus far,

 

Whether we drive a sailboat or in a car,

The vehicle is of no consequence,

If we are not guided by light.

 

Use your sight to look within,

And feel the unity of “Humanity”,

As we once knew and later forgot,

 

We only have this shot,

To get it right,

To live without fright,

For there is really no fight,

 

When we use our energies together at large,

Voyaging in natures communal barge,

That can only be experienced as “Love”.

The whale inside

The whale is inside,
Please don’t let it hide,

For you are destined for the ocean,
This magic potion that keeps us alive,

Energy is why we thrive.

So do not waste time on what matters least.
Instead have a feast,

On what you know to be true.

Endure the pain,

For soon will come the rain,
Washing you to shore,

And once more you will rise,
When we finally realise,

That love is the only prize.

8-7-16.

Last night I had a dream about whales playing in the ocean.

I have a special connection with whales ever since a close encounter that I had with them 3 years back.

I met someone randomly at the gym a few days ago. As I entered the room he came up to me and asked me about my experience on that fateful Sunday when I was knocked out by one of the most majestic marine mammals to roam the planet.

This person went on to tell me about his own amazing encounter with whales whilst surfing only a week back. He was just surfing by Stanwell Park, in the Illawarra when he was surrounded by a whole heard of whales, curious and interactive.

My new found friend and I seemed to connect on many levels. It was refreshing to meet someone like this, who was incidentally a masters student in Medical Philosophy, doing some fascinating research, because we seemed to be invigorated by a discussion about the bigger picture that often seems to be lost on so many who are caught up on the rat race of life.

Perhaps only those who are truly open to the great majesty and force of nature will be even close to expressing how beautiful it is to behold. This is something we both could relate to, and it wasn’t just about an experiment with whales, it was more about recognizing the gift of nature that is there every moment we are aware.

“In the stillness of a single moment of nature doth the power lie”

I never really know what the purpose of the whale’s message was, but perhaps if we love ourselves enough, we can find a part of their wisdom within us.

 

Where science and art meet

Where science and art meet,

Is a very special street,

 

That is more of treat than a destination,

A special universal creation,

 

The speaks the truth of this moment,

As we see it,

 

Do not try and understand,

Simply “Be it”,

 

For whether this place lies under you feet,

Or becomes the seat,

 

That you chose to dwell upon,

You will always find Love,

 

In every direction you look,

If only you can let go of the hook,

 

That keeps you trapped in the mind.

 

Learn to be kind,

And awken the blind,

 

Within you.

 

Those who understand this are few,

But still seek out this special crew,

 

Because this “peace” in life is long overdue.

 

12-6-16

Right now I am feeling quite blessed to be in London, spending the night in a hotel room with my beloved father who I owe so much to. So humble, so caring, the man who taught me what sharing was all about, modelled through the way he lived his life, and the way he provided for his family.

Sometimes when you are the recipient of great genenrosity there can be an immense pressure to reciprocate rather than appreciate. At present I choose to focus on the latter, and perhaps it is my deep connection with the arts that I can see things from a number of perspectives.

During the last 48 hours I have had a brief trip through “London town” which has felt quite special, if not magical, meeting and reconnected with family and wonderful friends. In such a short period of time I feel as if I have journeyed through a diverse range of geography, society, history, and art.

Some of the many highlights include a brief stay with my father in the centre of London, both of us respectively on transit between medical conferences, and having a brief yet meaningful walk along the Southbank of the Thames river. I also managed to pleasurably catch up with a range of friends and relatives including during a short space of time.

This included a dear old friend and flatmate who introduced me to the world of playback theatre many years ago and is now a dance movment therapist; an educational child psychologist who is nearing the end of her doctorate on the use of mindfulness training in schools; a special primary school friend who I have kept in touch with from the days of attending a British international school in Saudi Arabia during the 90’s, and of course the friend who introduced me to a form of mindfullenss training during my PhD fieldwork in Sri Lanka, himself an interesting medical doctor, and researcher in mindfullness medicine.

Finally, my stay in London culiminated with a night out with my dear cousin and her dancer friends in Covent Gardens. My cousin, herself an performing Flamenco dancer, and successful business woman and my old medical muso friend from Sydney, who happened to be visiting London, catching up with his own old friend who likes to experience life to its fullest.

I couldn’t help but reflect that after a weekend of exploration through science (a world that I am embedded within), mindfullness, and travel, it was the perhaps on the dance floor of what seemed like an exclusive London arts club that I again remember the salient importance of music, dance and art, and the quote shared with me by my cousin earlier that night.

“civilizations aren’t remembered by their business people, bankers or lawyers. They are remembered by their arts” – Eli Broad.

This morning as I was leaving on a bus to Victoria station where I would catch a train to the airport, I couldn’t help but notice, one more time, the increadible depth of art that I was surrounded by in London.

Onwards and upwards to #smaccDUB

So as I head towards one foremost conferences in critical care – SMACC Dub (Social Media and Critical Care) I am looking forward to experience more science, and but also more art and creativity. For whilst this conference that is touted at being one of the most dynamic in the arena of critical care, it has also proved to be a meeting place for some of the brightest and creative ideas in health care of modern times.

I am so looking forward to Dublin!!

 

Related posts

Meditation, Surfing and Thesis writing

Emergency Medicine and the loophole of Love

Half way around the world in 77 days

#smaccGold reflections

 

Love is awareness… (the travellers mindset)

Love is awareness,
The I don’t-care-ness,
That blesses those who awaken,

To the voice inside the whole,
Perhaps, the seat of the soul,
If such a thing exists?

Observe and see what persists,
The truth that sometimes resists,
Only waiting to be uncovered.

19-7-15

I’ve have just travelled in a plane from Sydney for 14 hours and right now am on a 3 hour stop-over in Abu Dhabi. So much has happened in the last 24-48 hours; finishing up my last shift at the emergency department to go on a much awaited 2 week break, graduating from a 9 year journey in research, followed by embarking half way across the world to be reunited with the woman I love. I have only been in Abu Dhabi for 1 hour but have noticed myself slowly slipping back into the mode of the “traveller mindset”. It is in this space that I have recieved much inspiration throughout my life.

The most incredible things have happened to me whilst travelling. I used to think that actual “physical travel” was necessary to get to this state, that is, until I discovered surfing and meditation. I have realised that travel is as much a state of mind as a state of being and cirucmstance. For example, the fact that I am now “travelling”, is more than a “situation” that has arisen by working in a job, booking leave, and then jumping on a plane to travel to a specific overseas destination. What I’m experiencing, and viewing through my mind, even before arriving at my chosen destination in Sweden, is far more than the situation of arriving at the destination. The process, that I have grown to know and love has already started.

Here in the airport transit lounge itself I have noted myself experiencing a state of total immersion in the essence of travel. I feel the sensation of arid heat upon my face as I look through the terminal glass out a the airbus’s and parked boeing aircrafts, standing on sunbaked tarmac, surrounded by a haze of dessert dust. I can hear the CNN, american accented, newscaster talking about reports of terrorist attacks from TV screen above and behind me, whilst sipping a latte that tastes quite different to what I am used to; perhaps it’s the different coffee bean, or the dairy product that is not quite the same? All these thoughts and sensations are in constant play, keeping me entertained and alive.

In amongst all this I have again embraced the interesting social dynamic of travel, where I can easily engage with other random travellers about a number of things ranging from travelling tips, to the reflections about deeper aspects of life. Since jumping on the plane at Kingsford Smith International airport in Sydney last night, I have already met a gentleman in his 50’s on his way to Athens, who shared the wisdom of his life experience including the assertion that if one believes and focusses on anything it can be achieved, and the refelction that by far the the most important thing in this life is family. Then there was the lady traveller from returning from India to Brussels with a colourful clothes reflecting that cultures of subcontinent, and the young Russian lady who sat next to me whilst having coffee, reading “eat, pray, love”, just about to embark on a travel adventure that included Thailand and other neaby South East Asian countries.

All these experiences perhaps occurred because my consciousness was not dulled by a circulating and never ending list of “tasks at hand”, something that seems to characterise modern urban living.

Travel encapsulates the everything that is occuring, the body sensations, the sights, the sounds, the human interactions, all being noticed indiscriminately, with curiosity and sometimes with bewilderment and awe. To me it is this observational mindset, which I call the “travellers mindset”, that is at the heart of travel.

IMG_4057 IMG_4056 IMG_4052 IMG_4049

Emergency medicine, and the loophole of love!

the loophole of love

With love we rise above,
Like the angel to the dove,
That flies high in the sky,

Above the the question of “why?”,
This should happen, or that should happen,
Instead taking “acceptance” as the key,

For only then will we be free,
From the visitudes of life,
For these are the ones that give it the spice,

Like a curry to its rice,
Remembering that there is no price,
In dreaming away,

So forget what “they” might say,
Because inside we can continue to pray,
For the gift of smiling yet another day,

And loving the present moment,

For in the end,
It’s all we have.

9-5-15

I recently started a new rotation of Emergency Medicine training, and before long have found myself immersed in all it’s beauty and simultaneous horror. Our speciality is full of energy, love and frustration. There are good days and challenging days, magic moments and equally frustrating ones, often intertwined into the same 10 hour shift, if not the same hour.

Most days are heavily mixed with both energies which makes it hard to have a frame of reference for an answer when someone from outside this world asks, “so how was your shift?”. For me, it is perhaps most truthful to answer this question with a guitar in hand. An example of this is provided with the the song titled “in the night drift”, that I have included at the end of this post.

Often the pressures within a single shift are high, but when compounded within a persons training period, or across sections of their career span, it is understandable that a soul searching doubt can easily set in, to the point where the question of “why am I doing this again?” is asked.

I am sure that this question gets asked by many in the field, perhaps with haunting frequency, regardless of whether one is a nurse, doctor or any of the multitude of other health “carers”.

Doctors, nurses, and the many other important ones

Whilst most would argue that “doctors and nurses” are at the core of health care provision, there is an array of other people, who occupy either named professions or unnamed roles. These people often contribute under the radar of recognition, but are making a huge difference in the field of emergency medicine everyday.

The list, in no particular order, includes but is not limited to;- physiotherapists, radiographers, clerical staff, nurse aids, cleaners, porters, special care assistants, pharmacists, translators, administrators, radiographers, laboratory staff, parking attendants, building engineers, ambulance and police staff, public health workers, aged care workers, counsellors and social workers, and not least the patients themselves and their families. We are all one, interacting together, in the common milieu of a single shift on the emergency medicine shop floor (a term that is often used to encompass the Emergency Department by Emergency Physicians in Australasia).

Why we practice emergency medicine?

Regardless of whether one is a doctor or has one of the many other important roles in this arena, perhaps Mel Helbert puts forward one of the best expositions of why someone would consider undertaking a career in emergency medicine in his recent talk titled from the EM essentials conference titled “why we practice emergency medicine”.

Mel, is the creator/founder of the EM Rap education channel, is a champion in emergency medicine education. When I use this term I mean it both literally, but I also mean to use it as a term from the field of “knowledge translation“, used to describe those who are proponents of change, in the evolving culture of crossing the “know-do” gap.

Whilst everyone’s story is interesting in their own unique way, Mel seems to have captured with his unashamedly honest exposition something that reaches out and inspires his audience, no matter if you love it or hate it, are within or outside the profession, or are simply curious about why anyone would want to do this job.

It was a really interesting 15 mins so I thought I’d share it here – thanks Mel!

The night shift

 
As promised, this is a song called “in the night drift” that I recorded directly after surviving busy nightshift, when I crawled back to my hospital accommodation and had a much needed sleep (albeit after a date with my guitar!). Enjoy 🙂

Awaken the genius within

Awaken the genius within,

Start to sing,

The songs that have no meaning,

 

 

Brush aside your heart-strings,

And begin the journey of your soul,

Don’t put it on hold,

 

 

Keep your mind on this gold,

For you never know what will unfold.

 

Yesterday I met a poet at the hospital registrar orientation and it was a very inspiring encounter indeed.

So often it is easy to feel lost in one’s workplace, which is a conglomeration of people who have gathered to work in similar roles, from varying disciplines. On the surface they have a common goal, perhaps even holding the same “job title”. However, their backgrounds, hopes and aspirations all differ quite dramatically – if only we take the time, and perhaps have the courage to enquire what inspires them in life.

One person I met was an avid kite-surfer, who also happened to know people from Canada who were my research mentors. For example, Eddy Lang is a guru in the research on “knowledge translation”. Knowledge Translation is a field that involves strategies of translating evidence into practice (which is outlined in this hallmark paper published, http://www.annemergmed.com/article/S0196-0644(06)02142-1/pdf , The principles outlined in this article had a strong influence on the theme of my PhD thesis, and i’m very grateful for this).

Later on in the day I spoke with a poet who had a passion for many things that brought meaning to her life including a fascination with animal kingdom. Perhaps the reflection from this encounter was that I would have never learned about so many interesting things, had I not asked the initial questions about what it was she was passionate about. The other side of the same coin is that we can easily shy away from “sharing” what makes us tick because of the fear of not being valued through what has become a narrow focus in our modern fast-paced world, and I have often found myself falling into this trap.

I find it ironic that in a caring profession like medicine, which is based upon uncovering the stories of our patients, we have a culture that is often misses the richness of the experiences of those with whom we work.

I am very passionate about music, and wisdom, and I would like to share an early rendition of a song I wrote years ago now.

The song is called “Peaceful Revolution”, and the song is also about how I discovered wisdom in the simplicity of the villagers of rural Sri Lanka, compared with the hustle bustle of my western urban background. Here is an earlier version in all its raw simplicity…