It is funny.
A couple of weeks ago I returned to the old Taoist concept of the empty cup. The value of a vessel being its emptiness.
I have also been dipping in and out of the Eastern concept of flow, most well described by Hesse in relation to Siddhartha and never being able to step in the same river more than once.
Add to these Csikszentmihalyi’s reading of flow and you have a sense that there is a theme.
All of this talks to the NHS and its dysfunctions.
You take a cup, smash it, pollute the river and offer constant interruptions and the result is not tranquillity or effectiveness, it is, a mess.
And a mess is what I most frequently encounter.
Missed opportunities, days, weeks of activity missed, quality collapse, disintegration of the holistic vision we hold dear.
And here I am not just blaming the usual soft-targets – it isn’t the management bogeymen who stalk the corridors of power, determining who will live and who will not, no, it is the politicians who hide behind picket fences whitewashed with Nationalism and fear; ‘Our country is failing because of the Poles/Slovaks/Romanians/take your pick of minority group; Hitler manipulated the Jews/Gays/Priests with similar levelheadedness.
Vote UKIP/Tory/Brexit and everything will be fine; we will make the poor homeless and the homeless sick and everyone else can grow fat on high salt, high sugar McMeals.
People will arrive in good faith at the doors of A&E departments and have the heart torn out of their identity; they will be given a unit/nhs/hospital number and sent down various pathways that leave their personhood behind; ‘I know it is your chest that hurts, but hold still, let me do this blood test so we can find out if…’ ‘Lie still,’ Or, as I recently experienced, ‘Quick, move out the way, coming through, old man, I’ve dockets to fill, places to be, go on, shift!’
We dehumanise one another in the pursuit of immediate rewards; bed empty, bed filled, test taken, result acquired. The pressure continuously grows, increases, escalates until you have nowhere else to go except, pop.
Remember Tchernichovsky’s dumplings?
Well, in organisations that are operating at pressures beyond the accepted threshold, the same happens as when boilers, nuclear reactors and thermostats spend too long in the red; there follows a sudden release of tension followed by a clean-up procedure that is still ongoing, like Chernobyl 30 years later.
In most hospitals in the UK, there are bed-crisis meetings every few hours, something like 9am, 1pm, 4pm, 7pm. Day after day. How will we get through until the next time? How will we keep the pressure cooker from blowing? After all, you can hear the whistling (shrieking), from down the road.
People with inadequate resources are forced into reflex responses where analysis, meaningful, strategic calculation is taken out of the conversation in place of impulse, ‘Move, move, move,’ the army captain shouts at the recruit, all in an attempt to destabilise, disarm, remove from planned to unpredictable from elective to emergency.
And the consequence?
I posted last night about the realisation that our society has peaked; life-expectancy is now falling in the West, chivvied along by people sporting blue ties, as they arrive, in oversized Range Rovers, freshly polished for the golf club.
And the bright young things I met on Friday, approaching the end of their studies, on the tail-end of multiple A stars and successful examinations, debt laden and able to intuit disease at ten paces, not realising that they are moving from all that our society can provide to an environment that if not post-apocalyptic, is post-pressure drop, like when you turn on the hot water and all you get is cold;
Heaven forgive this society for the way it is eviscerating itself.