Flamenco and Seville
Trip Start Feb 14, 2006
27Trip End Dec 15, 2006
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Louise and I flew out of France 5 days ago now and started our Andulucian experience in Seville. Seville is the sort of place that makes travelling worthwhile. It is beautiful, historic, colourful and full of charm. The joy of being able to speak Spanish again is really hard to describe. Both Louise and I have decided that of all the experiences we have had this year learning Spanish was the highlight.
We are staying in a lovely little hostel in the heart of the old-town. Every morning we get up and, after having the all-incluisive (toast and cheese) breakfast we head out to explore another section of this fascinating city. It is a mix of cobblestoned streets and narrow alleys, almost always full of just-ripe orange-trees, and the continued encounter of tapas bars wherever one walks.
Our first exploration was the "Real Alcazar" which is a beautiful fortress that has been used by royalty on and off for years. Andulucia (and Spain in general) has an interesting history given that it was conquered and then re-conquered by both Muslim (often known as the Moors, or as George said the "Moops") and Christian forces for most of its history. It is at the crossroads of Europe and Africa. It gives a wonderfully different sense to the architecture and feel of the place.
The real highlight of Seville for me though is Flamenco. Louise and I have been immersing ourselves as much as we can in its culture since we got here. We have seen 3 shows at different venues and even spent a couple of hours in the Flamenco museum. It is an interesting art-form. Some aspects I love - the rhythm, the percusion, the dancing, whilst others I am having trouble enjoying - like the singing.
The guitar, though, is truly a gift for anyone who likes music. Last night I watched a truly amazing flamenco player who mixed "rasquerdos" with "picados" with my favourite classic pieces (such as "asturias") at an astonishing rate. I love, more than anything else, watching art-forms that require immense dedication and incredible perfection of one's craft. Correspondingly, I am often unimpressed where it is difficult to see the work that went into the final product (such as my love-hate relationship with modern art). It is apparently one of the reasons that "magic" (my childhood passion) is often considered a 'low' art form - the dedication and technique needs to be 'hidden' in order for the illusion to occur. Anyway, what it comes down to is that I love watching 'mastery' of almost anything - from someone gifted in languages, to a great athlete, to a great chess player, to a great musician.
It is also something I have always wished to have done myself. As I watched the flamenco players strum I had this desperate desire to learn Flamenco. When I spent time at the "Leonardo Da Vinci" museum I became enamoured with studying mathematics and sketch-drawing. In Buenos Aires I loved watching the tango dancers and wished to dance as they did. I am alreaady trying to learn Aikido and guitar... the neverending list goes on and on and, unfortunately, by wanting to do so many of these things I will never reach the level I desire in any one of them. A classic catch-22.
However, whilst watching this flamenco show I had an epiphany that, like most moments of clarity, seems incredibly obvious and almost twee in retrospect: MEDICINE accomplishes everything that I want! I realised that medicine and flamenco are, in some ways, incredibly similar. Both require huge sacrifice, lifelong dedication and often the resignation to living in a world that few people understand. Instead of trying to mimic an art I will probably never understand I can return to the art that I do. It is as if I have come full circle. I left Australia needing a break from medicine, wanting to explore other avenues and broaden my experience of life, only to reach the end of the trip and realise that medicine provides everything that I needed in the first place. It is the classic storey of 'the alchemist' except it seems to have happened to me!
The wonderful thing is that I am returning to Australia in 2 weeks to embark upon one of the most stressful and demanding periods of anyones medical career - the pathway to physician specialisation. For at least the next 18 months I will be both working full-time and studying-full time - most doctors seem to work 60 hours a week then somehow study a further 30 on top of it. Many have also described the next 18 months as the worst of their lives. Although I left Australia in some ways running away from such single-minded dedication, on return I am filled with the sensation that it is what I have been both looking for and admiring throughout my journey (and, on reflection, my life). The prospect of living in a medical journal seems to be exactly what my life needs right now. Serendipity smiles!
OK - enough philosophising. As Bruce Lee said, if you think about something too much you will never get it done. If you need me I will be studying
Thanks for reading