Friday, December 21, 2007

Wall Paper

Wall Paper. You know, the stuff you put on your walls so you won't have to look at the cracks. Someone spends endless hours shopping for the stuff. They get samples and bring them home, tape them to various walls and "live" with them for a while. After a time, a decision is made and the swatch turns into rolls which get pasted onto one or all the walls in a room. Everything is suddenly and magically changed.

The room looks better, larger, opens up, flows and fills in. It is a triumph of interior decorating. Folks sit and admire the new look and guests and visitors offer offer OH MY's and IT'S LOVELY, IT MAKES THE ROOM. Every one is happy, and you are proud of your work...for a while.

It may take months to years but eventually the wall paper that rejuvenated you so much becomes old hat, passe, so yesterday. The pride you had originally felt with the project has left you. After all, you haven't done anything with it all this time. So, the whole process begins anew. This is true of another kind of wall paper.

Some folks collect degrees (I talk of others of course...but I digress). They get diplomas, certificates of completion, awards and declarations of something well done...and they paper their walls with them (after suitable framing). This kind of wall paper does more than make the room. This kind of paper also makes you feel good and embues within you a sense of accomplishment.

With each additional piece of wall paper you grow, expand your horizons, become more competent and sometimes you even gain a title such as teacher, doctor or minister. The wall paper becomes an archive of your life and accomplishments to the point where you may identify yourself by the labels on the paper but can't remember what it was you had started out to accomplish in the first place. Alas, like the pattern of lilies in the dinning room, this wall paper eventually loses its impact and, like an addict, you needsanother fix...another diploma...another certificate.

At the end of the day it is all about symbols and keeping records. Lack of interest, practice and due diligence slowly chips away at the competency so proudly claimed on the wall. That is, and unless, at the bottom of the certificate there is a date of expiration, a time at which a new certificate must be earned to replace the now out of date wall paper.

I need to get 30 CME (Continuing Medical Education) credits every two years in order to keep my license to practice. Not surprisingly, I take pride in the fact that that piece of wall paper is current. I also have to re certify every 4 years with the ACA to keep my level 4 open water instructor's certificate current. That one stays up there too. The two of them keep me on my toes, keep me motivated and make me safe for those with whom I work. My wall paper is cool because it is always in style. And I am so cool, I don't even put it on my walls but, rather, keep it all in a box in my basement. In the end, it is only important that I know they exist and that they are current.

Paddle safe...


No comments: