when i got accepted into medicine as a last minute add-on due to one of their other applicants turning down the post, i knew how lucky and privileged i was. it was the first step in a very long journey and i wasn't going to mess it up.
the first year in those days was spent at the main campus and we would only be at the medical campus from second year onwards. second and third years would be spent on the pre-clinical campus and only from fourth year onwards would we be in close proximity to the big boys. all this i didn't know when, during first year orientation they bussed us to the medical campus so we could see the preclinical buildings and watch with a fair amount of jealousy when the higher year students walked past. the whole medical training thing was very hierarchical. it didn't bother me. i had been in a similar system before and had moved up the ladder. i could do it again.
the preclinical campus was a very relaxed place. there were essentially only two buildings (ok, ok there was also the dentistry building but we didn't go there) with a large grassy lawn between them. there were a few trees providing shade for groups of students lying on the grass and reading or chatting. our group of first years on orientation clearly didn't seem to fit in. none the less we found a tree to sit under during a short break in the orientation program.
and there i sat in a state close to euphoria with my hopes and my dreams all layed before me. i knew i stood at the beginning of a journey that would lead me to what i one day would be. what i was at that stage was of little significamce other than the fact that it was a pointer to what i would become.
i lay under the tree and, as best i could, told my friend who was with me about these thought. i then added that i would use the tree as a sort of temporal marker that i could come back to when i was finally what i would be. then i would stand under the tree annd remember that exact moment when i looked into the unknown future with innocent hopes and dreams.
recently i had the opportunity to go back to the preclinical campus. i remembered that moment so many years ago and was quite eager to stand under that same tree and reflect about the years that had passed and what i had become. on that day, so long ago, i would never have guessed that i would have gone on after medicine to specialise in surgery, so i actually achieved more than i dared dream. i was realy looking forward to a moment that would link one specific moment in the past with the present.
the campus was just as i remembered it. the lawn was still there and there were still students sitting in small groups. they just looked so much younger than i remember being. then i went towards the far side of the lawn to have my moment under the tree.
they had cut the tree down! it was gone. everything else was exactly the same except my tree. is there nothing sacred?