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LEISURE TIME; HOLIDAYS
Leisure Time. Certainly in the life of a busy practitioner there is little time left for leisure; but he is either a slave to his profession or a man of cramped mind and without method who confines himself to his work alone. There is nothing so narrowing and dwarfing to the intellect as complete abstraction in one's own work, and the more so the more specialised it is. To enlarge one's mind and broaden one's views it is necessary to have leisure in which to study some other pursuit. Time apart from one's business can always be had, even in moderate amount, if a man will but systematise his work and not stay in bed too long. A certain part of each day ought to be and should be set aside either for mental or physical recreation or for the study of something outside of one's daily work.
As most practitioners enjoy a fair amount of outdoor exercise it is hardly necessary that they should employ leisure time in open-air pastimes. At home, however, retired leisure" ought to be devoted to some hobby. If the doctor makes himself proficient in any one, he will have added an extra pleasure to his life. He may do good and valuable work in this form of relaxation and may even advance science, art, history, archæology or mechanics.
Though the dilettante enjoys himself in dipping
into various branches of study, it is unlikely that he will contribute to the advance of any. It is only the student who, thoroughly interested in a subject, pursues it with pleasure and is not content until he has added something of value to the store of human knowledge. When one thinks of such men as Rabelais, Schiller, Sir Thomas More, Galvani, Dr. John Hunter, Sir Charles Bell and many others, who all were medical practitioners in active practice, and yet have left the world richer by far by their work done in hours snatched from busy work, it ought to be an encouragement and stimulus to every one of us. Time is the only true possession given to each one, and as we are careful of our goods, we ought surely to be doubly solicitous about this gift which is our very own and see to it that it is not wasted or misused.
"Rocking on a lazy billow, with roaming eyes,
Cushioned on a dreamy pillow, thou art not wise."
He who wastes our time is really a thief, for he takes away what can never be restored to us again. Franklin said that leisure was time for doing something useful; this leisure the diligent man will obtain, but the lazy man, never. Leisure is not worth while taking unless we can make a great and noble use of it. Life is so short that there ought to be no time to spare in idleness. We ought to follow the example of Scipio, who said that he was never less at leisure than when at leisure, and many centuries before him Homer declared that it was not meet to stand here wasting our time or idly loitering, for there was a great work to be done.
Reading. Reading is to the mind what exercise
is to the body. It is only by absorbing the wisdom of others that we ourselves can become wise, and as we take every care to clothe our bodies, we ought to be equally careful to clothe our minds. As the careful man gives full heed to the style and nature of his bodily clothing, so ought we to pay equal attention to the kind and nature of the books which we use to furnish our mental dress.
A certain amount of time must be set apart each day for reading. This must be apportioned between professional and general subjects.
1. Medical Literature.-No practitioner can be a good one or be able to satisfy himself unless he keeps himself up-to-date in his profession. This entails a great amount of reading and study, for there is no science which advances so rapidly as does medicine in all its branches. Scarcely a month passes without there being something new discovered in medicine, pathology or therapeutics.
If we are not to be left behind in this professional race, if we are not still to retain old-fashioned methods of treatment, then we must "read, mark, learn and inwardly digest" widely and deeply current medical literature. There are plenty of excellent medical, surgical, pathological and special journals and magazines, so there is no excuse for our not keeping ourselves well educated.
As regards books, one cannot advise the medical practitioner to buy these indiscriminately, as they so soon become out-of-date. Of course he must have certain standard works of reference in his library, but speaking generally, of the rest a perusal with note-taking will supply all that he requires.
Those practitioners who live in large towns and cities can easily procure the latest medical or surgical books at the libraries of their colleges, whilst those who live in the country ought to join one of the medical circulating libraries, so as to be able to get any book which they may desire to study. It is only by constantly reading the weekly or monthly magazines and the special books which we require, that we can keep ourselves in line with the most recent advances.
One must remember that any new discovery in medicine appeals with great force to the general public, and as it is soon made widely known through the daily newspapers, the medical man is often put to cross-examination regarding it. If, therefore, an educated patient has a greater knowledge of some of these new discoveries than has his medical attendant, there will be a serious decline of his trust in the latter.
2. General Reading.
That place that does contain
My books, the best companions, is to me
One cannot reprehend sufficiently those who waste too much invaluable time in reading closely daily newspapers and other forms of ephemeral publication (for they cannot by any stretch of imagination be termed literature). One must know the daily events not only of our own town, but of the world; this knowledge, however, can be obtained in a very short time.
Much time is also consumed in reading the popular monthly magazines to the exclusion of good books. Those articles which interest us in the best monthly reviews ought always to be read, but the taste for thrilling tales in magazines ought not to be cultivated. It is a taste which, unfortunately, is easily acquired, and it is pitiful to think that many practitioners find their sole pabulum as regards literature in such publications. There are surely enough and to spare of the classic works of writers of our own and of other lands to prevent such waste of time and intellect.
A mere desultory reading of books again, though interesting, is hardly to edification. One ought rather to systematise his reading and read for a special object. Thus, one might read all the works of a certain writer in order to master his style, to note the variety of his characters, to gain an insight into history from his researches, and so on. Again, one might take a certain historical period, and read the works of the writers of that time, so gaining knowledge of what was then actually happening in the social, political and literary world. Again, one might study the essayists of different centuries and contrast or compare their style, works, and so on.
At the end of such a study we would have the satisfaction of knowing that we had completed a piece of work which we had set ourselves to do, and if we have done it carefully and thoroughly with ample note-taking, we may be able to contribute still further to the literature of our country. ''Tis the good reader that makes the good book."
Holidays. It is often difficult for the practitioner