This is a guest post from Stuart Hayward was on the first cohort of Nurse First.
The other day, driving to work, there were two sets of roadworks which to a cynical mind would have appeared to have been contrived to inflict maximum mayhem and misery. One set was on a main hub into Bristol, the other was at a mini-roundabout serving commuters seeking to avoid the first set. The lack of alternative routes lead to my being stuck in traffic for an hour on a leg of my journey that can take only six minutes.
I sat there letting Radio 4 ramble in one ear and out the other, watching the growing frustration in those around me. Cars were being slewed around in aggressive three-point turns, arms were being thrown up in frustration and bonnets were dipping violently as drivers braked sharply at the last second, after having crawled forward another twenty feet.
Two things then happened to me.
Firstly, I thought to myself ‘I have a glove box full of CDs I either haven’t listed to at all recently, or are my wife’s choice.’ The one I grabbed was Adele. It was something new, out of the ordinary (for me) and took me one step away from the scene around me and the pressures of the world being described on the radio.
Secondly, as I stop-started along a bridge across the motorway I saw the allotments to my left. I often notice the allotments, holding one myself. What was different on this occasion, however, was the paddock between the allotments and the motorway.
‘Ponies!’ I thought to myself.
I then saw a solitary goat. I don’t know what type/breed/make/model or whatever, I’ve never been a goat aficionado. It had big curly horns and was white-ish and shaggy. And chewing grass.
A bit like this:
It didn’t seem to pay me as much attention as I did it. Maybe their eyesight isn’t great.
What did strike me was the fact that in all this frustration, chaos and anger, I noticed it. And I noticed that I’d noticed it. And it was good.
Natural history programmes show great herds of wildebeest migrating across the plains. There’s always an individual stood still for several seconds while the others blur past it.
Hollywood has the thoughtful protagonist standing still while all the others flow past him.
In this near-stationary traffic jam, that was me.
Crisis and woe all around, but I didn’t care. I took time out for me. I noticed the world. I was safe, warm and not going anywhere. Why worry?
The impact of this event was huge. I now have that picture as my desktop background, and now have a method to mentally put the brakes on when events threaten to careen away from me.
More importantly perhaps, my colleagues now understand why, when the work is threatening to pop, I can refocus us all with four words.
“I saw a goat.”
-Stuart Hayward, recently awarded QN, is linking nursing and military experience in his job as a Specialist Veterans Practitioner. He’s married with two energetic young sons, two quirky chickens and a neglected allotment! He occasionally tweets to @stunursefirst and is trying to improve life in his village through www.facebook.com/lockingtothefuture