What should we like?
Saturday, July 8, 2017
Ramble #4: Various
What should we like?
* Small children are jazzed by, stuck on, the phenomena around them. Old people are moved not by the world but by their thoughts of it. They are inner-dwelling even though they talk about things. Their landscape is memory and the philosophy their body has produced. Imagine the opposite: Lying on your death bed and becoming preoccupied with some unfamiliar insect crawling on the sheet, you lose your last three minutes on earth and are gone. It seems like the most ludicrous waste, the comedy of death by banana peel. Yet new experience – a bug, a grass blade whistle, a sliver of a moon – is the meaning of life for the child.*
Is it bad or good that we gain a self but lose the world along the way?
* Following all the politics and pundits today is a substitute for being alive. We have become “social metaphysicians,”** Nathaniel Brandon’s term for individuals whose ground is other people not the ground itself. We are built into the attitudes and delusions of movements and alarms, not personal loves or creativity. I saw the embodiment of that in a twenty-year-old girl (it must be said) who lived on the bobbing heads of friends, false friends, acquaintances of friends, gossip and fears of opinions. She didn’t see herself apart from them. Ambition, absorption in an object, doing something with her life, had never entered the scene. Maybe the youngest children are a healthy blend of realms. Saturday morning – plans on what to do; afternoon, they’re playing ball or swimming, nighttime they’re catching and inspecting lightning bugs. At school, they are learning the world they are in abstractly; recess, they are swimming in the hive of community, personal prestige, victories with and against others.
Is there some right point on our timeline when we should have finished picking up tools and started building something? Or, stopped being mesmerized and started being galvanized? People who want to only study and get more learnèd, people who want to read and read and collect books, knead thoughts into pies in the sky – something is wrong with them. I really wonder: If you’re living in ideas, are you really living?
New elevator speech
I always continue to try to be a better therapist. Part of this urge is, admittedly, my fear that there are either some elemental truths or some next-evolve insight of therapeutic relating that I consistently miss. For years I have oriented new clients to what might be called “injury psychotherapy”: The deepest and most enduring help comes from finding the poisoned roots of our dysfunction and getting the poison out. This is done through knowing, expressing the internal, sending it to the perpetrators, cutting the umbilical cord to them. These processes make us be less poisoned and feel different, and that means we’re a different person.
But this speech doesn’t address the close, caring, even parental and loving relationship that actually becomes the atmosphere and yes, often the fallback of therapy. Is there a way to incorporate that into my basic introduction to – pardon the hubris – their soul?
The client has described some of “what ails.”*** I’ve asked several or many questions. Then –
I hope you’ll come to see me as a different kind of friend. That’s because therapy helps when it’s a different kind of natural: a truth-finding and truth-sharing beyond where people normally go. All the things you have never said but needed to; all the feelings you kept inside and didn’t get to live and breathe; the past lost or never known, the now you’re afraid to say: All that is good and right here. The one predetermined part of this endeavor is that you’d need to decide it’s important to you. I’ve seen people do not nearly as well if they just come on a lark, here and there, or when some troubling feeling presses them. I really think therapy should be a meaningful part of your life.
I might try that speech.
What should we like? part 2
It’s possible that the best way for the old man to spend his last three minutes is to watch that insect. He began in the world, and ended in the world.
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* I mean, in an atmosphere of love. If love is missing, it will be a prepotent need that blanches or kills interest in worldly things.
** Nathaniel Brandon – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmQAnVh6K-4, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKfESlnzUjc.
*** Probably in the popular Love’s Executioner, Yalom says that “What ails?” is his opening question to the new client.