Alan's Blog




I've sometimes thought how wonderful it must be to have a profession which can become a way of life to the extent that it can immerse an individual.

Let's examine what I mean by this example:

During the 8.5 months we lived in the hospital with our dangerously ill beloved daughter, our lead consultant, one of the most wonderful persons we've ever known, lived his profession. Apart from being highly talented he was involved with not only our daughter, but with us as a family unit. He became an important and integral part of our family. His life was his profession and thereby the children and families in his care were his life too. I've known him come to visit our daughter quite late in the evening - after 9:00 p.m. when gave her his full attention and unlimited time. At about 7:30 p.m. one day, I said to one of our nurses that I really needed to see him. She went outside the room and called him on his mobile telephone. She came back to inform us that he was on his way to see us – he'd been on his way home and re-parked his car just to come to see us. When our daughter was too unwell to travel to the hospital, shortly before she passed away, he drove to our home in order to examine her and see us; a round-trip of 90 – 100 miles. On arriving in our home his first job was to turn off his mobile telephone so he would not be interrupted during his visit. How special he made us feel – and remember, we weren't the only family he was caring for. Sadly, we were just one family amongst many in a similar, very dire, situation.

Another example of a profession that can immerse the participants is that of those fortunate people who are blessed with a real gift of music. I'm not referring to those who produce the noise knocked out in the name of pop music, but real musicians, particularly classical musicians for whom every note has not only to be perfect, but has to be played perfectly. You may well have observed that musicians are immersed in their music and you will find almost all their friends are musicians who are immersed to the same extent. Not only is it their profession but it is their social life too. Even outside the world of concerts and recordings they will get together simply because they enjoy playing music. There simply isn't time for people outside of their musical life to be included.

In my profession as an engineer, this sort of immersion or devotion is rare, unless you're as talented as engineers like the Brunel's. Most engineers just turn up to work, do their job and go home at the end of the day and don't spare another thought for 'the job' until the next morning when they start the routine again. Indeed, this is the way of life for most people from accountants to zoologists – although some zoologists may have animals to care for which extends their working day and may well give them some immersion in their profession (like the medical profession already discussed whenever care is an integral part of the profession there is more immersion), but I'm sure you'll understand what I mean.

Of course, other professions require a great deal of single-mindedness, such as sports champions, but are they entirely immersed in their sport as, say a musician is in their music? If a golfer, say, plays or practices golf every single day for eight hours, does he also play golf as part of his social life? I think not, unlike the musician. Does the said golfer only associate with other golfers? Again, I think not.


Of course, like all wonderful aspects of life, there must be downsides too. Surely, people who are totally immersed in their profession must miss out on other aspects of life. This level of immersion requires a certain single-mindedness which excludes almost everything else which therefore means that they don't experience a great deal of variety in their lives from which other, mere mortals, gain a great deal.

Maybe being so immersed in one's profession is more like a double-edged sword.

Maybe being so talented as to be totally immersed in one's profession isn't such a wonderful deal after all.

One fact is certain; I'll never know.

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