Are you in the groove, or just stuck in a rut?
WHEN I lived in Denmark, I behaved like a Dane. That meant I took a winter holiday to go cross-country skiing in Norway.
Every morning at 4 am, the ski lodge would send workers out on snowmobiles to pack down the night’s new snowfall and create perfectly spaced tracks.
I would wax my skis, put my feet in the tracks and glide along. Because the going was so much harder out of the tracks, I rarely left the designated trail.
Trudging along, pretending I was a Nordic athlete, was exhilarating. I never thought of it as being in a rut. To me, I was ‘in the groove’.
The air was crisp, the scenery majestic, and I knew I had a purpose: to work up my appetite for an enormous smorgasbord.
These days, however, the distinction in my life between rut and groove is becoming less clear. Should I venture off onto a different path?
For someone who has moved around the world for work and adventure, I’m finding that I am not terribly good at transitions now.
If I were to give up clinical medicine, for example, how would I go about hanging up my stethoscope?
I’m really attached to it. How does someone set a quit date when their motivation keeps wavering?
Here again, thoughts of Denmark flood in. One of the most endearing Danish customs is a rite of passage from infancy to childhood. Children visit the Suttetræ (Dummy Tree) and tie their dummies to its branches. They may visit the tree beforehand, in preparation for the big day, and return again after relinquishing their gifts. Often pictures made by the children accompany their offerings, along with messages to adorn the tree and help mark the symbolic transition.
I once had the privilege of seeing a large branch of one such tree, laden with dummies, suspended from the ceiling of the ultramodern maternity hospital in Odense, Denmark. The thought of it still fills me with delight.
Maybe, modelled on Danish tradition, it’s time to invent a new Australian medical symbol: the Stethoscope Tree.
GPs could come and hang up their stethoscopes as a rite of passage out of the profession. And I can’t think of a better place to have the trees than at the new Medicare Locals.
Yes, at last there would be a real purpose to those branches.
Dr Pam Rachootin
Adelaide GP, journalist and teacher.