When I was in grade school, every year on the first of May, we did a Maypole Dance.
Picture a tall flagpole with streamers of different colors cascading from the top. Happy music played as we danced around the flagpole, ribbons in hand, weaving and bobbing until a colorful Maypole of ribbon magic stood in the center of the circle.
I remember looking forward to this event as springtime raised its head after a winter’s sleep.
The Maypole Dance was colorful and uplifting, and filled us with hope for warmer weather, less homework, and summer vacation on the horizon.
What does that have to do with now?
Yesterday, I was in the O.R. with a team that I was unfamiliar with. They were not my “usuals.” I have been fortunate to have a rotating group of core folks who work with me, but somehow, they were all out.
When I walked in the O.R. to greet my team, they were less than enthusiastic. Trying not to take it personally (don’t we always go there?), I reassured them that we would get through the day easily and I would guide them, since they were not used to working with me.
The day was a bit of a struggle, to say the least.
When I asked them to name just One Thing they liked about their jobs, only one person came forward with an answer. The other two whined about how it used to be and how it wasn’t good now.
All day I felt as if I was the driver of a horse-drawn carriage. I constantly had to steer the horses in the proper direction. No one was interested in merrily clip-clopping along.
Fortunately, we made it through the day, and the cases went well.
But I felt tired and a bit sad.
I realized that this is how so many of my colleagues feel every day.
And, as I changed clothes in the locker room, I wondered what message of hope I could find in this day.
As I walked out of the locker room into the hallway, one of the doctors whom I greatly admire happened to be walking in the opposite direction. We were walking so quickly that we almost didn’t see each other.
We reached out and shook hands and shared a few updates on our families. We talked about another special guy in medicine we both know, and marveled at how awesome he was with the staff and patients.
As we said our good-byes, I called out to him that he had been the bright spot in my day. He just laughed.
But seriously: If I hadn’t allowed myself to be vulnerable and share my passion for helping folks love medicine again with him, we would have never had that conversation.
And I would have never gotten the boost I needed to go about the rest of my day.
Like the Maypole, we can work together to weave a beautiful ribbon of care and grace in the world of medicine.
We just have to find like-minded people who are willing to reach out with their ribbons of hope and dance.