View From the Top: How and Why

As a person I didn’t have to imagine the admired unknown. Instead I made my own arrangements to meet some special people in my profession and my life.

As a hand surgeon I went to New Orleans to meet and stay a few days with Dan Riorden, one of the nations’ best. I spent a couple of days in London as the guest of Benny Rank, the co-author of the famous Rank and Wakefield hand injuries book. I went to Buenos Aires for the sole purpose of meeting the man I considered the best allover hand anatomist and imaginative and pioneering surgeon, Eduardo Zancolli. The day after my arrival I and a group of his residents were dissecting thawed-out upper extremity specimens on his kitchen table, a practice I continued in Davis with some of my residents – where my children would sometimes pull “dissection” arms and legs out of the freezer to freak out their friends, behind my back, something that could never be done shortly after this era. These frozen specimens were obtained from the hospital pathologist after amputations for cancer and trauma. Zancolli bowed to my accompanying “lovely” wife and later whispered to me, “You Americans”, motioning toward a young and handsome American resident training with him. “That guy has our most gorgeous women following him around. It should be illegal!”

As a wrestler, I invited one of my heroes, Stan Henson, probably the best pound for pound wrestler in US history, to a lecture on freedom I was giving in his home city of Fort Collins, Colorado. He was in his mid seventies, still with a huge grip, and had just returned from conquering the last on his list of Colorado’s highest mountains. He was still a practicing surgeon and, after my lecture, took great pride in showing me around his “surgeries” area. I took to heart one of his admonitions, “Never slow down when you’re winning, even when you’re well ahead. It’s a good way to lose.”

As a traveler, I have really been around the world, yet in the back of my mind linger those places not normally accessible or visited. It’s hard to get information about such areas, and they require personal research and independent arranging. Two such places for me are Northern Australia and Botswana. The former has little written about it and almost no population, but is rich in sometimes bizarre wildlife, such as the formidable water buffalo and unusual water python of all sizes. The latter is immensely impenetrable with pygmies and all sorts of wandering African wildlife. Few American travelers have been fortunate enough to be visitors in these places. My wife and I enjoyed arranging our own trips by small plane, flying from camp to camp in the Okavango Delta area, and by locally guided far ranging jeep travel in northern Australia. Visiting such places puts an authentic stamp on the adventurous world traveler.

As a philosopher I spent almost three weeks in Carl Jung’s Switzerland, where I was able to see his fascinating home and tower in Kusnacht, and interact with a group of Jungians exploring the theme, “Carl Jung and Nature.” See the romantic poem, “Gardens of the Soul.” My Jungian friend privately shared the poem with me as we discussed my own epic poem, “Truth and Beauty.”

Gardens of the Soul
I would like to invite you
Into the gardens of my soul.

So that we may both enjoy
The flowers and the butterflies
With their magnificent colours.

So that we may both enjoy
watching the birds flying to and fro
And singing joyfully from dawn to dusk.

So that we may both enjoy
The play of the wind
Rocking tenderly the plants
Small and large
Caressing our hair
And our skin.

So that we may both enjoy
The clear light of the sun
And feel it lovingly warming our bodies,
While we become one, dissolved into one another by its heat.

So that we may both enjoy
The taste of spicy fruits
Melting in the sweetness of our lips.

So that in my garden you may
greet the moon, the day – and the evening stars,
And discover the night,
The song of the nightingale,
The soft night wind
And the moonlight
The nightly fragrance of petals,
The taste of pomegranates and berries.

I would like you to enter my garden,
Here is the key! Please come in!

Author wishes to be anonymous: Friend of Ruth Amman, Zurich Jungian

My adventurous and philosophic story, “My Jungian Lover,” is included in Reckless But Lucky (2018).



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