Archive for July, 2007

Tonight I went to see the firework display over La Cite, Carcassonne.

Here’s the closing sequence captured on my K800i mobile phone

The display is known as L’Embrasement

Some of the photos I took are here

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You’ve heard of GTD haven’t you? It’s everywhere on the web (3,260,000 hits if you google it!) It stands for “Getting Things Done” and was invented by David Allen. Put simply, its a system to try and help you beat procrastination and clutter by focussing on actually doing what needs done instead of just thinking about it and hoping that one day you might get round to it. The basic idea is a good one – that things that need done but which you haven’t done yet clog up your brain like clutter clogs up your house. However, as with all “systems”, (especially ones which get trademarked), it all gets a bit too complicated for its own good. Zen habits is a personal organisation blog which I like and here you’ll find a simplified version of GTD.

I confess. I love notebooks and pens and diaries and calendars so this whole thing catches my attention. I’ve even read the book! More than that, I’ve changed my home filing system to the simple one he suggests and I try pretty regularly to action or file the pile of mail that heaps up on my kitchen windowsill – clearing that windowsill is a strangely life-enhancing experience!

But I’ve been on holiday for the last week and as I’ve had a busy week of NOT Getting Things Done (NGTD), an Italian phrase popped into my head for some reason –

Dolce Far Niente

First time I saw this I wrote it in the front of my then current Moleskine. In English it would mean “Doing sweet nothing”. I can remember when I was a busy GP rushing from surgery to housecalls and cutting through Holyrood Park. I would often see someone sitting on one of the park benches. Just sitting. And I’d think “How wonderful! To be able to just sit! No bag. No phone! Just sitting!” That’s one version of “Dolce Far Niente” (DFN). You can make up your own. What’s your favourite way to enjoy doing sweet nothing?

While thinking about this post I came across this painting by John William Godward

It’s entitled “Dolce Fa Niente”

Dolce Far Niente

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clouds over water, originally uploaded by bobsee.

I find water so fascinating. In all its forms.
Clouds are lovely. They manage to look solid and soft and substantial and impermanent all at once.
Here’s a photo I took looking down on the clouds as I flew over the French coast.
What’s really amazing here is how you can see the shadows of the clouds on the surface of the sea.
Water reflected on water
Water moving over the face of the water.
Shadows of heaven on earth

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raindrops on leaves, originally uploaded by bobsee.

I can’t stop myself photographing water! I love to see drops of water like this on a leaf or a petal. The perfect shapes, the way water sits in droplets on leaves reflecting the light of the world. You can see whole worlds in there. You can see LIFE in there.
It’s beautiful

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rainbow over castle, originally uploaded by bobsee.

What’s the significance of a rainbow? Is there a pot of gold at the end of it? In this case it looks like the pot of gold must be in Stirling Castle!
The rainbow is a hopeful symbol isn’t it? This beautiful one which I saw on wednesday made me think of the two states I often see as a doctor – hopelessness and hopefulness.
Some doctors tell people how long they’ve got to live. Usually these are people with cancer. But these prognoses are just based on statistics. For this individual who sits with me today I have no way of telling how they’re life will progress let alone of telling when they’re going to die. More than once I’ve told patients that having a disease doesn’t give you knowledge of when you’re going to die.
Pretty much in every condition a doctor will see someone who gets worse, someone who doesn’t get better and someone who does. The proportions of people in each of these categories changes with different diseases. But there are ALWAYS people who defy expectations. Look at Stephen Hawking. He has Motor Neurone Disease and most people with this disease die within a couple of years of diagnosis. Stephen Hawking has had this disease over 40 years now.
Patients with any disease have a choice about how to live their lives. They can choose to give up in despair, or they can choose to hope. A doctor’s job includes helping patients to choose hope – realistic hope, not crazy hope!

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