Just being a doctor didn’t cut it with Ernest Hemingway.
The author of much machismo set sterner tests if you wanted to be called a proper man,
Four of them in fact.
A real man had to father a child, plant a tree, write a book and fight a bull.
Well three out of four ain’t so bad.
Thirty years ago I might have fancied myself wearing a Matador costume in the bull ring at Malaga or running with black beasts through the crowded narrow caminos of Pamplona.
But in truth, I’m actually quite content with being three quarters of a Hemingway man.
Twenty five books have been published, the tree affords some nice shelter and the child orders rare fillet steak everywhere.
Hemingway’s pre-conditions are perhaps metaphors for how we live life. All work and no play can make exceedingly dull doctors. The child stands for family – it could be a parent, a sibling, a cousin or a friend. Company and contact outside of the clinical cocoon is important. Planting a tree is the hobby. It could as easily be mowing the lawn, growing cherry tomatoes, visiting the library or collecting stamps. The book symbolises the second job – the sideline, the nixer, the work that gets you away from the main occupation. And Hemingway’s bull is that element of danger, of surprise, of bravery and a hint of madness. I think Hemingway saw many fellow fighting men in those loose bulls.
There is a Niche for everyone in medicine. Having dabbled in practice, publishing, writing and politics, I have been lucky to uncover more than my share them. My mother was a great believer in taking to the boards, provided you had something to fall back upon. Medicine provides that great jump off point, and a comfy landing.
Dr Maurice Guéret is a writer, publisher and editor of the Irish Medical Directory. A Specialist in General Practice, he is currently writing The Doctor’s Dublin.