Sunday, May 6, 2007

Illusions, Delusions, and Confusions

So there I was, watching one of my secret vice TV programs, Flip This House, and there is the lead developer, caught in a mess in one of the worst houses, full of feral cats, enormous rats, giant roaches, you name it. The stress really gets to him. His wife arranges an appointment with a "doctor". He gets there and discovers, ack, it's a psychotherapist.

Still outside, he calls his wife on his cell phone. "I'm not crazy!" After a bit of discussion he says he'll go in, but only for her sake.

The camera follows. We see snippets. He talks. As he hears himself talk, with gentle input from the therapist, he sees that he needs to decide to get on with it, and just get it done. He walks out from the therapist's office, in all senses of the word a new man. On the way out, he takes her card, remarks she said to call her if he wanted to talk, laughs scornfully, and throws the card into the bushes.

Delightful. No, really. He could not more clearly have been helped. Nor more clearly have refused to recognize it.

Reminds me of a late colleague who attended, many years ago, a pre-retirement seminar about two years before he retired. I asked him how it went. "Bloody waste of time!" was his reponse. "Oh?" I asked. "Yea," he said, "they had us sit around and play stupid bloody games. I mean, one of them, they made us list the ten things we liked best to do in the whole world. Then they gave us a bunch of monopoly money, and had an auction! They auctioned off everything we liked to do, but we couldn't bid any more money than we had! So and so bought my preaching, for G-d's sake, and so and so bought my chess playing! And we never even got to good medical care, I'd been out of money for half an hour! Stupid, stupid bloody game."

Now here's the thing. Before he went to this seminar, he was busy building his retirement home in a remote corner of Maine, miles from anything or anywhere, not even a village. When I next saw him, a year later, the Maine property was sold, and a new place purchased, this time in a town in New England with dozens of UU churches nearby, many of them small, and always looking for preachers. A town with an active chess club. And access to excellent medical care.

"That retirement seminar seems to have turned out to have been useful after all," I offered. "G-d, that thing, total waste of bloody time" was the response.

I've attended useless workshops, and even bad counselling in my day. But, my friends, oh but ... what did I think was bad that actually changed my life? And oh my counselling friends, don't take our ingratitude too personally, eh? It's so hard for us to acknowledge that we, even we, may have needed just a little bit of transformation.

1 comment:

Robin Edgar said...

I'm not crazy either but a whole lot of U*Us like to pretend that I am. . .

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