Sunday, 4 December 2016


 Mayara Floss

“(…) Now one of you says to me, "But Grandpa: does time you are counting as was his boyish life, in the fields And now you start talking about emptiness ..." Then I explain: "It's the fields it is where the emptiness is large. the city is the place where emptiness is small. " In the city we look out and eyes just hit a building, a wall, automobiles. In the city we see short. In the fields, because the emptiness is large, the eyes see far, far away: the fields, the woods, the mountains on the horizon, the sun dies, the moon rises, the stars ... What a beautiful thing to see the white curtain rain is coming ... When emptiness is big world grows. (...)“ – Rubem Alves

I met him in the green cold and welcoming emptiness of Connemara. At night it is possible to see all the stars and in the distance his house near to the mountains is visible. It is necessary to cross a bridge and drive some Kilometres  to get there. When I met him I did not know he was a painter, he came into the Surgery with allot of smiles and jokes and a red nose. He had a obvious cough, sounded chesty and after an examination it was suggested that he take an antibiotic. He declined with a shake of his head saying that it would probably make him  more ill and cause him to be unable to work. His GP and myself a Medical Student gave some medication options but he was kindly sceptical.

While the Doctor spoke on the phone I got a chance to sit behind him and explained with a drawing all about Pneumonia, Bronchitis, emptiness and fullness. He raised his eyebrow and said you have made it very clear, now with your drawing I understand he said.

He accepted a prescription for medication but his GP and I felt that he was unlikely to take the medicine. Before he left the surgery with his prescription the doctor changed a big paper clip for a smaller one and he jokingly chided the doctor for being a penny pincher.

We laughed and I went with him to his car to be greeted by his Labrador, “ I never leave home without her".

The Doctor told me about his patient and friendship and the long life of difficult negotiation with medications. Sometime later we went to visit him which was more a social visit than a House call. The Labrador was on the road waiting for us before we turned in the dirt road. She already knew when the doctor was coming. According to the painter she feels the doctor coming and runs and waits in the ground to welcome him. He recounted how he happened to arrive in that place which he called his spiritual home. Back then may years ago there were only 2 or 3 houses and he described the enchanted emptiness of that rural island.

He was in the process of painting the local landscape, the greenery and lakes outlined with geometrical figures which he painstakingly re altered depending on the view he utilized . His little triangles and squares of paint were repeated thousands of times to get the colour and light exactly right so that he could produce the right green emptiness. His house and structure had evolved over the years based on previous adventures and alliances. Everything there had his personal touch, little pulleys  to close doors, solar panels to provide light, a fireplace strategically constructed in the middle of the house to heat bedrooms behind it and the living room in front. His house spoke his personality and was like a painting of himself. He invited us to sit at a table and sample food including Soup a routine played out often between him and the doctor that I was lucky to be part of on this occasion. Where the doctor sat an envelope with his name which on opening the GP found a chain of paper clips all that had been given by the doctor to the painter in the previous years. We all laughed at his reinforcement of the doctor as a penny pincher. Many people choose to be city dwellers where things are full, less empty, places where there are many things to do a lot of structure for treating diseases and a lot of everything. I learned with a bowl of soup some clips ink and people that emptiness is what could fill myself.


 Mayara Floss is an undergraduate student of medicine Federal University of Rio Grande (Universidade Federal do Rio Grande - FURG) in Brazil. She is the co-creator of project "League of Education in Health" based on the freirean principles and co-empowerment of communities and students (Blog in Brazilian Portuguese: ). She was Fellow of the Science Without Borders Program at the National University of Ireland, Galway 2014-2015. She is the creator of SUS Series (  ), a video Series about the Brazilian National Health System. She created in 2015 the Rural Family Medicine Café ( ) and she is coordinating the recently created Word Rural Medicine Student Network (WRMSN). She also co-created with the Indian Dr. Pratyush the project "Rural Health Success Stories"  and writes weekly for the Blog of Popular Education, Arts and Health - the Ferry Street of 10 ( - in Brazilian Portuguese ).

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