I started Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of The Day last Saturday because it is the book club’s book of the month. This is my second Ishiguro book and as I start reading the first few pages, I thought it will disappoint—I know, it’s too early to judge, but what the heck am I going to do about the life of this butler?! Anyway, I was wrong again and this book is far from being a disappointment.
Disclaimer: My thoughts are in chaos.
While reading last night, I found myself relating to Mr Stevens and his father. As a butler, they are very reserved and very apt in their work. They are capable of emotional restraints when they are faced with people who flood them demands, commands, and insult, without giving them the allowance or liberty to be human. I mean, they are expected to carry out their job without complain, or as Ishiguro said, “with an expression balanced perfectly between dignity and readiness to oblige.”
There was also a debate of what is a “great” butler, which I relate with my profession, Nursing. It is always my frustration, being great or competent at things that I do, but I always lack it (because it is partly my fault. I’m such a lazy person). But what is really being “great?”
dig·ni·ty (dgn-t) n. pl. dig·ni·ties
1. The quality or state of being worthy of esteem or respect.2. Inherent nobility and worth: the dignity of honest labor.3.a. Poise and self-respect.b. Stateliness and formality in manner and appearance.4. The respect and honor associated with an important position.5. A high office or rank.6. dignities The ceremonial symbols and observances attached to high office.7. Archaic A dignitary.
Ishiguro said that is it having it’s dignity in keeping with his position rather than being a competent one. I quite agree with this because being a competent one (in terms of skills, talents, etc) can be developed over time, but the patience and professionalism in keeping up with the position, with the people you have to deal with is a commitment. Just like with my profession, we were taught of how nurse are expected to/should behave, how apt and proper we are because we are educated and licensed (which I really believe so—to the point I believe that we are important people. Because we are). We were trained and capable of dealing toxic cases, demanding patients, scolding doctors, time pressure, and ugly schedules, but I don’t understand why we are looked-down by other people like we are just mindless people who will just oblige with the requests of our clients (which we’re not)? I know that our patients’ lives are far more important than our emotions and feelings, but does that justify us being “great” or our worth as nurses because we keep up with our position even if we are sometimes deeply inconvenienced with it? It’s not that I am complaining, it just frustrates me how other people treat us. Sometimes, I just want to give it up. I know we always have the choice to leave it all behind and choose another path or profession, but for me, it is quite hard. I mean, I am already here as a nurse and good at what I do (not really). Maybe because it is our/my calling to be a nurse? I don’t know.
Ah, topics like these frustrates me! Tell me if I get it right—what Ishiguro is trying to tell me.