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Train of Thought...
September 2006 - Rose-tinted Spectacles?

Every Friday evening I wonder where the week has gone and why my "To Do" list is as long if not longer than it was on Monday morning. On Monday morning the universal chorus is "Where did the weekend go?" I take heart from the fact that "youngsters" on the team are as troubled by the shortness of the weekends as am I. It can't simply be a case of age. As

I prepare for my holiday in Europe next month, I have been struck by several things as I read about the different cities and regions we intend exploring. The first is the age of the place. Discussion is in terms of centuries not years. Not only are there Roman remains to look at but there are earlier civilisations hidden beneath them. Buildings rose over hundreds of years thanks to the dedication and efforts of generations of craftsmen and labourers. There were none of the prefabricated concrete Lego bricks we see today.

The other thing that has impressed me is tradition. Outside of the major cities, it strikes me the pace of life has not changed very much in hundreds of years. Of course I may be in for a rude awakening! Life appears to be dictated by the seasons, by people's needs and "by the way it has always been done". Most aspects of life seem to be built on tradition from food through siestas to social structures.

As I mature, I find tradition is becoming more important to me. I grew up with very few family traditions but I now find myself trying to start new traditions, especially as there is an incipient grandchild. Traditions reflect a number of things not the least of which is a pride in what we do, who we are and in what has gone before. Traditions bring people together, tie people together. Village life seems to thrive on tradition and social interaction whether it be in the marketplace or at festivals. There would be little happening that doesn't get discussed. Life is unquestionably for living.

On a day-to-day basis, I also find that informal discussion, whether over cups of coffee, or other grey matter accelerator, frequently provides more solutions and advancement than does a string of formal meetings. Of course hospital accreditors would have us believe that progress only comes from minutes, flow charts and sheaves of paperwork. I believe, however, that quality and its improvement are a cultural thing at heart. Quality flows from people wanting to do to what they do and being proud of what they do. No JDF can ever embrace that.

Our weeks go by too quickly and I suspect our "To Do" lists grow because we are too busy responding to the ever-increasing pressure to extract more from diminishing resources. By succumbing to that pressure are we not giving the "system" a tick of approval? Are we not saying "We can cope"? We end up short-changing ourselves, our families and potentially those who require our services.

We have to become more savvy in terms of long term planning, believing in ourselves, recognising limitations and acknowledging that there is a limit to what can be achieved. Equally importantly, we also need to assign ourselves a personal priority.

No doubt I am seeing things through rose-tinted spectacles when I read about where we will be exploring next month, but I can't help wondering whether the purported longevity of the Italians and the French really should be laid at the feet of good food, wine and olive oil. I suspect it actually has more to do with devoting time to living and valuing life. I hope to learn some lessons that I can apply when I get back home. I will, of course, also have to see whether good food and wine helps!

'till next time

K

September, 2006

kevin.gain@health.wa.gov.au

 

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