I picked up neurosurgeon Henry Marsh’s Do No More, so there’s been some conversation around the kitchen table about what is an aneurysm and how can a surgeon become so skilled? I’d like to say right up front this is not a feel-good book by any means, and Marsh’s success is tempered by grief. Nonetheless, brain surgery is a vocation he’s called to.
Upon sitting in the surgeon’s chair, Marsh writes:
This moment still fills me with awe. I have not yet lost the naive enthusiasm with which I watched that first aneurysm operation thirty years ago. I feel like a medieval knight mounting his horse and setting off in pursuit of a mythical beast…. and although my assistant is beside me… and despite all the posters in the hospital corridors about something called clinical governance proclaiming the importance of team-working and communication, for me this is still single combat.
Likewise, the apple tree in my front yard grows with passion and singular intent, not at all concerned about the children in the swing or the croquet wickets, the possibility of late frost or early frost, and certainly not affected by any warnings or exhortations. Over the years I’ve lived here, this tree has grown steadily and profusely. Every day, my hair catches in the low-hanging branches I stubbornly refuse to cut. This tree doesn’t intend to pursue any mythical beast, but it’s spreading elegantly into its own destiny.