Unique in all the world
“Write the book you want to read”. I don’t remember where I read that advice, but I took it.
I have a special shelf in one of my bookcases where I keep some of my most significant books. These are books which each made a big impact on how I see the world. Every one of them has stayed with me from its first reading. I see them as a sort of structure, each connecting to the others, so that the whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts.
At one time I saw them as a sort of framework, like scaffolding, helping me to construct my personal view of life. But now I see them as something more organic than that. They are the garden I’ve planted, the land I’ve cultivated, the soil I’ve seeded, the seedlings I’ve tended to. I’ve nurtured the thoughts, the ideas and the insights I gleaned from them, harvested words, phrases and images from them.
This is where I live. I live on this ground. I breathe this air. I am nourished by these harvests.
What does it look like? This territory? These maps? These vistas and perspectives? How does it feel to live this particular, this singular, life?
I have a fascination for visual imagery. I love to take photographs. Here’s a couple of old photos I found recently. These must have been taken by my dad when we had a family holiday to Orkney. We traveled from Leith up to Kirkwall on the “St Ninian”. Must have been in the early 1960s. I guess I’d be about 8 or 9 years old. I guess I’ve been a photographer longer than I’ve been a doctor!
I sat down and started to write, collecting my ideas and thoughts from my reading, recalling events from my own personal experience, and, as I wrote certain photographs I’d taken popped into my mind When I pasted them into the text I found they inspired, in turn, further thoughts and words.
What holds the whole thing together is a profound belief in uniqueness.
My entire working life as a doctor largely consisted of four decades of moment by moment, one to one, personal meetings with individual patients. Despite the fact that many shared similar diagnoses, every encounter was unique. I never met two people with entirely the same story to tell. Those were very humbling experiences.
In every clinic I found that only this person, today, could tell me what they were experiencing. Only this person, today, could tell me whether or not the treatment I’d initiated was helping them. And only together could we come to make sense of it all, and begin to change things for the better.
So, I wrote this book, pulling together what I’d learned from the books I’d read, from the experiences I’d shared with probably thousands of patients, and I sprinkled it with some of the photos I’ve taken which have inspired me most.
If you’d like to check it out, or get yourself a copy, follow this link –