Archive for May, 2023

I took a road trip recently, over the Pyrenees from France to Spain. Stopping in a lay-by to admire the view I spotted this glorious flower. I imagine nobody planted it here. I don’t know what it’s called. But it caught my attention and drew me right towards it.

We have two kinds of attention working all the time, a focussing in, narrow form attention which lets us spot a detail and study it up close. And a zooming out, broad form, taking in the whole view type which shows us this…..

The first is a flower. The second is a flower in the Pyrenees.

As a doctor, making a diagnosis was at the core of my daily life. I’d focus in on the details to figure out what kind of disease this was (I’m better at naming diseases than naming flowers!) but, at the same time, I’d keep an open mind, keep my curiosity active, and zoom out to hear the patient’s unique story, to understand the contexts and connections related to this disease.

The narrow focus helped me recognise disease, the broad focus helped me understand human beings.

Ok, as always, it’s not quite that simple, but I thought these two photos were a good illustration of the different values underpinning the strategies of engagement of the left and right hemispheres of the brain.

We need both. We shouldn’t get into the habit of using only one.

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I took this photo while out strolling round the village. From one of the small bridges you can see the stream winding its way among the trees, creating an astonishingly beautiful, green scene.

When I looked at this photo at home I thought it looked like an Impressionist painting, but, really, no art quite achieves the beauty of Nature. We can re-present the world to ourselves and others but our lives are lived in a continuous flow of energies, materials, sensations, thoughts and feelings.

Every single one of these moments is unique and no two of us standing on the same bridge at the same time will have identical experiences. We are all influenced by, you could say created by, the cumulative flow of personal, subjective moments which we weave together to tell that singular, unique story that only we can tell.

These are moments of awe and wonder, and Nature has the power to generate these, most healing of all, experiences.

This stream, by the way, flows from “La Source”, which emerges from the subterranean waterways coursing through France. That, too, contributes to my experience of awe and wonder.

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