Friday, July 30, 2010

There's Something About Bob

There is a man, I will call him Bob, he is a star football player in the NFL. Super Bowl winning quarterback. Every American guy’s dream right? Grabs the headlines every week. Plays at a high level in the extremely competitive world of professional football. Takes hit after hit weekly from 300 lb. defensive ends and bounces right back up to throw a 50 yard touchdown pass on the very next play. A real star and the envy of every high school and college football player in the nation and every couch-potato, internet sports-site trolling wannabe who never realized his dreams of athletic stardom. He epitomizes what they had hoped to be.

Lately Bob has hit some rough patches. Turns out that he apparently thinks that his status of Super Bowl winning quarterback brings with it certain entitlements not available to the average person on the street, you and me for example.

He likes to party, he likes to spend money, he likes the attention from the young ladies who like professional athletes. Of course he does, he’s a young guy, 28 years old, at the height of his athletic ability, at the height of his stardom, everybody wants to be with him and get a chance to share in his good fortune.

He likes to party, he likes to spend money, he likes the attention from the young ladies and, as it turns out (allegedly I would specify) he likes to sexually assault the young ladies. Being a football star comes with its entitlements does it not?

Well the newspapers can only report on the alleged ‘facts’ of the assaults and they're running out of new material and facts are still under investigation, nothing has yet been proven and it's time that the story expanded a little.  Gotta fill up the empty space on the page, gotta keep the advertisers coming and spending their money.  So eventually the sportswriters they turn to something else, a new angle on the story. So they turn to his college and high school and boyhood friends. “Tell me what Bob was like ten, fifteen, twenty years ago” they say. “Well… Bob was a really athletically gifted person and exceptionally driven to succeed.”. We find out that Bob was always in the weight room, first one in and the last one leave. Bob tirelessly and relentlessly worked on his football skills. A real committed guy, even at such a young age. It was all about making the NFL for Bob and he deserves his success. Nobody has worked harder than Bob to get where he is today.

Driven, single-minded, strong-willed, focused. That’s Bob.

We find out a little about Bob’s family. Parents divorced and Dad remarried - nothing new there.  Half the kids in the country have divorced parents. Nice home in a regular community. Money wasn’t abundant but it wasn’t scarce either. Basically Bob grew up with all the creature comforts a small-town boy could want or need.  We find out that Bob’s mother was killed in a car accident when he was just eight years old. She was on her way to see him.

There's something about Bob that nobody can quite put their finger on.  He was such a great kid, so much talent, such a nice guy, generous.  What the hell is going on with Bob these days?  We just don't get it, why this is all happening.

I wonder if it's possible that maybe Bob doesn't bounce back quite so easily from every hit he's ever taken.

The Story of Our Lives Part II

There is a woman who likes to drive fast. She likes fast cars that handle the curves, she likes fast cars that go from 0 to 60 in 4.5 seconds.  She likes cars that respond instantly when she hits that gas pedal... and she hits that gas pedal hard and frequent. When she drives on the highway she hits speeds upwards of eighty-five mph. On this day she is heading home on the highway, as usual she is driving way too fast. But there is a certain kind of thrill in speed for her. A feeling of freedom? A little sense of danger perhaps? Hard to say.

On this day driving home she is lost in thought as she flies down the highway and she snaps back to attention just as she realizes she is about to pass right by her exit. So she veers right, never dropping her speed and gets on the exit ramp that leads to another highway that will eventually bring her home. But the second she hits this exit ramp she is in the middle of a crazy snowstorm. From sunny, dry conditions to blizzard conditions in the span of twenty yards. Road is covered in snow and she likes fast cars and she is driving fast and she hits that snow-covered road and realizes in an instant that she is driving way too fast for the road conditions. Problem is that her love of fast cars means that her tires do not grip well in slippery conditions and the second she hits the breaks she’s going into spin. The second she tries to slow down it’s over. She’ll lose control and God knows where she’ll end up.

She wants to slow down, she knows she has to slow down but she also knows that the instant that she tries to slow down control of that car is no longer hers.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Story of Our Lives

Is not this...

Or even this...

And it ain't this as I had once suggested...

It's this...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Therapists and Friendship

So I'm reading this blog post about friendship and professional boundaries in the therapist/client relationship and basically the question is would I want to be friends with my therapist after the therapy has ended.  In the myriad books about therapy that I've read I've seen this question raised many times both among therapists and patients.  Seems that while there are rules which appear to be 'not until two years after the therapy has ended' there is much debate over the question.  Whatever and not for me to decide since I'm not a therapist and I would not be the one breaching any ethical boundaries.

However I gave it some thought and here's what I think;  I like my therapist.  I like her a lot.  She's smart and she's funny and I can tell her patients matter to her and I can tell that her job matters to her and I have never once felt like she wasn't completely focused and in that room with me. I like my therapist as my therapist.  I like that she is my therapist.  I like that I have a therapist that I can count on to be there every week, week in and week out.  I like that I have a person that I can go to every week, week in and week out and talk about what's on my mind.

I'm totally good with the fact that she's my therapist.  Could we be friends in a different time and place?  I have no idea but we're not in a different time and place and I feel very fortunate to have found somebody that it seems I can count on to do her job.  She is just what I need in a therapist and if we became friends I'd lose that.  I have lots of friends and frankly there aren't a lot of them that I can talk to without them getting their own s**t in the way (and vice versa no doubt)  so why would I trade my therapist in for a friend and take on her s**t?

No thanks.  I like her right where she is.

As an aside I have also heard it said numerous times that people get a bit freaked out when they hear of (or see) their therapist at a party or some other public place and the therapist has somehow decided to be themselves, let their hair down, act like a regular person, and I don't get it.  Do people think their therapists aren't real people?  I'd crack up if I saw my therapist in say the grocery store and overheard her telling someone about a party she went to and had one too many and started telling off-color jokes.

I don't know... something about me wanting my therapist to be a real person I guess.  Who can say?

Monday, July 26, 2010

I've Got Nuthin Part Deux

I am in a place right now, a little frustration, a little confusion. I sense a movement towards a place of greater understanding or rather a place of being able to formulate a bit more competently some kind of cohesive theory of human existence and our relation to God. Or at least I hope so because this inability to gather my half-thoughts into some kind of cohesiveness is pretty darn frustrating.

I have times, right now for example where I feel on the verge of a break-through… but of what? New knowledge? New understanding? I cannot even find a word for what ‘it’ is so I use the word ‘it’. A word about as nondescript as one can get but I have nothing better. I am forced to use the word ‘it’ a lot because I don’t know another word to use to describe something that is circulating in my mind but is not yet even close to being in full view and so I cannot make out what ‘it’ is. ‘It’ is just a blob right now, not even a blob, no form, no color, no properties of which to be spoken. Very frustrating.

Take for example the whole religion thing. I will speak specifically of the Christian theology or let me be slightly more general and use the Bible as my example. Here’s the thing; I know these writings point to the ‘truth’, I’ll call it ‘reality’. I like that word better. The biblical writings point to something that really is, I just cannot come up with an organized and cohesive theory of what that something, or what that story is. Jesus for example; real or myth? Actual person as God in the flesh, living model, living archetype of what really is, sent so we could actually see and speak to the actual THING of which we all have built-in knowledge, living proof of our pre-existing knowledge or was Jesus simply a man turned into a myth that represents the reality of the knowledge implanted by God. Our projection of innate knowledge.

How’s that for convoluted?

Interesting that Carl Jung indicated that one of the errors of human beings is in our habit of looking to ourselves in an effort to get some kind of picture of God when in fact I think that the very place we should be starting in our efforts to gain an understanding of God is ourselves. Of course I suspect that he was referring to behavior and I am referring to construct.

The best I can do right now is to merely define that at which I am grasping; a cohesive theory of the basic structure of human life and it’s relation to God.

That’s all I’ve got.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Ignorance of Choice

The choices we make are made in ignorance (and we’re ignorant of even that much), and as a result of our choices made in ignorance things happen, some that we never expected, some for which we are completely unprepared. And when they happen we’re lost, we flounder around looking for answers and we expend all of our energy trying to find the solution only to ultimately come to the conclusion that there is no solution, or rather no solution over which we ourselves have any control.

Unfortunately we oftentimes empty our tank in the process of trying to find solutions to problems that presented themselves in response to our choices made in ignorance and so we’re left to somehow make it through the rest of our lives running on empty.

What a dilemma.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Checks and Balances

We have been given free will however we do not generally exercise that free will. The concept of free will dictates that everything we do is a conscious decision, a conscious choice to act in a certain manner given the situation at hand. We fool ourselves into believing that the actions we take upon that situation are fully powered by our own free will.

Not so.

Most of us do not at any given moment exercise nearly the full power of our own free will because our actions are motivated by forces in our psyches of which we are completely unaware. And the really sad part is that we are unaware that we are unaware. Talk about your sticky wickets huh?

Carl Jung set forth the idea that our dreams act in a compensatory manner to our waking or conscious lives. If my conscious self is behaving in a particular manner, for example I fancy myself a strong and intelligent individual, a real Type A, driven, determined, a perfectionist, always in control chances are pretty good that my dreams will present images to the contrary.

I would have to agree with that assessment although I do not believe that our dreams serve ONLY as compensatory. I think there’s a whole lot more to them but that’s not what this post is about.

I believe that our whole being is compensatory. That the whole human machine has innately a system of checks and balances that are there and if we’re paying attention (and sometimes even if we’re not) we will know when we’re stepping outside of our own healthy zone. If after many years of living in a manner that is inconsistent with what and who I truly am, with what and whom I am truly meant to be than my systems will inevitably start to break down; physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually to the point – if I ignore it long enough – that I will be brought to a screeching halt. It has to happen.

My built-in system of checks and balances kicks in and if I ignorantly insist on pushing back against it year after year I will ultimately lose the battle. I cannot win, I am constructed in such a way that my defeat is inevitable… it is only a matter of time.

Checks and balances.

Another interesting thought occurs to me.  This system of checks and balances is something that we, 'we' being society use 'out there' in the external world.  For example our government here in the good old U.S of A has in place a form of government that is made of the three branches; the Executive, the Legislative and the Judicial branches.  And these three branches were put in place this way so that there would be a system of checks and balances.  In other words our founding fathers were quite aware of certain human frailties and had the foresight to do their best to ensure that one guy didn't grab the all the power.  While the system is clearly not perfect it does manage to 'work' to a degree.

What I am getting at here is that every idea, every concept, every system that is put in place 'out there' in the world at large is an expression of something that is already a part of our human machine.  These ideas are an external manifestation of knowledge that we already possess within ourselves.

I am becoming quite convinced that every human being knows a hell of a lot more than we think we know.  In fact I am coming to believe that we already know EVERYTHING we need to know, which is a hell of a lot.

We just don't we know it and we haven't got the first clue how to get to it.

And so the key becomes about getting to what we already know in it's purest form possible and learning how to make use of it.

Checks and balances.

Somebody tell me that God does not exist.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The World According to Dr. Knowitall

One day you’re going about your business, tending to your life and all of a sudden someone comes along and grabs you, takes all your clothes, all your money, puts you on an airplane and flies you into the middle of a foreign country where nobody speaks your language, nothing is familiar and a raging battle is taking place and that someone kicks you out of the cabin smack into the center of the battle. Bullets whizzing by your head, bombs exploding all around, debris flying and you’re in the middle of it stark naked with absolutely no protection and no way out. So what happens? Well your choices are minimal and let’s face it, in the chaos that ensues all around there’s not a whole hell of a lot of time to sit down and think about your options and reason out which is the best. You’ve had no training in warfare, you’ve had no training in self-preservation in the heat of a battle, you haven’t got the first clue what to do. The one and only thing you know is the drive to get out of there alive.

You look around and in your state of panic and high anxiety all you see is rocks. Rocks.  Choices do not abound – in fact the only choice you can see is the rock at your feet. You grab the rock. It’s a crude and unsophisticated weapon in the middle of high-powered rifles and bombs but it’s all you’ve got. So you use it and somehow it works, somehow you manage to – with incredible effort and energy use the damn rocks to defend yourself. And so you keep grabbing rocks. What else are you going to do?

Fast forward to six months later.  You wake up in a hospital bed in a quiet town far from the battle. You’re bandaged from head to toe because you were beaten and bloodied in a hundred places. Bones have been broken, eyes have been gouged, limbs may have been severed, internal organs have collapsed.

But you’re alive.

In walks Dr. Knowitall, Harvard Medical School, Chief of Trauma Surgery, credentials up the wazoo, drives a Mercedes, clean hands, clean fingernails, hair cut and coiffed, the envy of all his peers. Born and raised into money, had parents who put him through medical school and paid his bills while he studied and graduated top of his class, the dude knows his trade.  But war-zones? Yeah… not a clue.  Oh he's had to stitch up plenty of people that have been there but personally he never had the pleasure.

And as he inspects your wounds he says to you “oh my poor dear such a mess you are but you went about it all wrong. What you should have done was this, this and that and if you had only done this, this and that well then you wouldn’t be lying here in this sorry state you're in with all of these gaping wounds and facing years of difficult recovery. It’s so simple and you really ought to have known better.”

I'm such a mess.  Why didn't I know better?

Such a simple solution.  Why... Didn't... I... Know... Better?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Deep Calls to Deep

I keep a journal and I write in it pretty much every morning. I have noticed that sometimes I become focused on the need to write something deep and profound in this journal every day. But I’m thinking about this and I’ve realized that deep and profound has nothing to do with it. Actually what I am trying to do is to write something that is satisfying every day. When I have written something that allows me to get to the core of what I’m thinking and what I’m feeling what I am left with is a very satisfied feeling.

Having the opportunity to express ourselves to someone else, being able to say to someone what we really think, what we really feel, that is the path to fulfillment. Now I do realize that this idea may change over the coming years but even that is not necessarily an indication of my self-doubt about this particular idea but more the knowledge that anything and everything we come to know about ourselves, about others, about human life in particular is subject to evolution which encompasses change in the form of expansion, in the form of deeper clarity. How cool is that?

Right now the only person with whom I am fairly comfortable disclosing my feelings is my therapist. A shout-out to her for allowing me to get to that point.  It has not been easy for her this I know. And in that opportunity I have realized that the way I feel sometimes walking out of her office and for the rest of the day after having been able to express something that I truly feel touches that place of satisfaction. And what that satisfaction is I do believe is just the tiniest bit of that elusive thing we’ve come to know as fulfillment.

This is a harbinger of things to come…

To this point I thought that being able to talk about my emotions was just a matter of relieving the pressure I have felt building for so long due to the fact that I’ve held them in for so long. Years and years of pent-up emotions that never had a chance to be outed. I have a picture in my mind’s eye of a well that is filled to the top with garbage and if I could find a way to empty that well of the garbage little by little until I finally reached the bottom well then I would feel better. Totally cleaned out and starting from scratch. And while that may be partly true it isn’t the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

This feeling of satisfaction that I get when I can talk to her in a way that is completely honest and in a way that gets to the core of my real feelings might just be the spark, a tiny little hint of how it feels to live my life as my true self. I have been fake for so long that I have lost – or I should say I never had -the knowledge of what it is to live as me, to recognize what it feels like to BE me, as I really and truly am and I am quite sure that these brief times of satisfaction that I feel in the expression of what I know to be true for me is a glimpse into the experience that is available to me if I live as me, the real me.

Now I know.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Disconnection of Thoughts about Connection

I’ve just started a new book entitled In Search of the Miraculous by P.D. Ouspensky. Ouspensky was a student of a gentleman by the name of G.I. Gurdjieff. Gurdieff was an Armenian born teacher and mystic. The following from the site presents a brief synopsis of the basic tenets of his teachings:

Mr. Gurdjieff was an extraordinary man, a master in the truest sense. His teachings speak to our most essential questions: Who am I? Why am I here? What is the purpose of life, and of human life in particular? As a young man, Gurdjieff relentlessly pursued these questions and became convinced that practical answers lay within ancient traditions. Through many years of searching and practice he discovered answers and then set about putting what he had learned into a form understandable to the Western world. Gurdjieff maintained that, owing to the abnormal conditions of modern life, we no longer function in a harmonious way. He taught that in order to become harmonious, we must develop new faculties—or actualize latent potentialities—through “work on oneself.” He presented his teachings and ideas in three forms: writings, music, and movements which correspond to our intellect, emotions, and physical body.

P.D. Ouspensky was an author and student of Gurdjieff. The book is a reflection of Ouspensky’s spent with Gurdjieff as well as a discussion of his teachings.

I agree with much, if not all of that brief synopsis although I have yet to get far enough into the book to know the details of his teachings. I just finished chapter one.

Anyway… as I’m reading this morning I got to thinking about a few things. I got to thinking about all of the books on spirituality, theology, psychology and philosophy that I’ve read over the past few years, which include both some eastern and western philosophies about spirituality, psychodynamic and Jungian psychology, Christian theology, admittedly for much of this time I’ve read mostly what could be classified as Christian spirituality, theology and philosophy however for the past year I’ve started to open my sphere of investigation. I am starting to dabble in more mystical writings, Buddhist and the like.

And I had a thought and it goes like this…

It is interesting to me that in all of these spiritual, mystical, philosophical (call them what you will) books we are presented with what appear to present deep, dark and profound thoughts about the nature of human beings, the nature of the universe, the different levels of being right down to the concept of ‘being’ itself. I have to say that these ideas are exciting to me, always something new to consider, always something new to confound and investigate and drive me forward for new levels of insight, understanding, wisdom and so on. These ideas, they spark a flame in us, a flame that points to a place within us that allows us to think that there just might be something else ‘out’ there or ‘in’ here or around it all SOMEWHERE that can fill the gigantic hole that exists in us. A void that so many of us cannot seem to touch no matter what we do, no matter what we buy, no matter how many churches we go to, books we read, trees we hug or yoga positions we assume.

We read, we listen, we practice yoga, we meditate, we worship in church, we volunteer at soup kitchens, we fight for our causes and we write checks to charities but still that hole remains. We are always listening to somebody else’s ideas, practicing somebody else’s instructions of movement or non-movement, hanging on somebody else’s words for the ANSWER. Somebody to tell us THE meaning, THE way, somebody to point us the way to that thing which we cannot even define. We are asking somebody to show us the way to a place that remains a mystery to us. It’s like going up to police officer on the street to ask for directions and saying “I’m going to a place, I don’t know what country it’s in, I don’t know the name of it and I don’t know anything about what it looks like but I need you to tell me how to get there.”.

I have noticed a similarity however among all of the teachings; they all talk about ‘connectedness’. They all infer knowledge of creation, a way to a ‘better’ place, a ‘higher’ plane, an elusive way of existence or a feeling or a state of mind that only a fortunate few might ever attain to.

But where is God in all of this? Where is God in all of these deep and profound explanations of the universe, of the talk of suffering and the connectedness of everything. Where is God in the talk of ‘higher’ states of being?

I cannot shake the feeling that all of these concepts exclude the personal. That is our deep connectedness to each other, the NEED of a person for other persons. I could be wrong but in my brief forays into Buddhist thought I’m pretty sure I’m detecting the suggestion that God is superfluous to the whole thing. I get a sense that this Buddhist idea of enlightenment does not require God. It’s all presented so… impersonally.

I am a human being and I must be connected to other human beings if I am to survive. This is a fact, pretty much everyone knows it. And so this necessity of connectedness to other people, this requirement of being human must dictate somehow that the ‘thing’ that I am searching for, the ‘higher’ plane of being is a different level of connectedness, in fact the ultimate level of personal connectedness and interaction which would be our connectedness to God.

How is it possible that a method (a path, a teaching, call it what you will) of being and living that purports to attain enlightenment or espouses a different (higher) level of existence could possibly exclude that THING from which everyone comes, runs through, exists in moment to moment? Given our connectedness to one another and everything then how can any “answer” to life exclude God?

You might say because God does not exist and we must find ourselves within ourselves. Hmm…

Then explain the connectedness. How is it possible that everything that IS is connected to everything else that IS? Random chance?


Friday, July 16, 2010

Lay Down Your Arms

I knew what was going to have to be done. I would try to push it from my mind and a thought would spring to mind; maybe I can do this without going there, maybe I can find a way to do this and still avoid that, ‘this’ being psychotherapy and ‘that’ being the places of pain. The places of real pain.

But in my heart I knew. In my heart I knew that I carried around some exceptionally well-constructed defenses. Everything I ever did that I was truly motivated to do I did extremely well. I’ll have an order of control freak with a large side of perfectionist please. That would be under the heading of Adult Child of Alcoholic (among other things) on the menu.

My whole life was a defense. My entire personality was built on rock hard defenses. A great and quick wit and sense of humor, albeit at times cutting and dark and sarcastic, spilling over into caustic on frequent occasion. Uber-competent, fairly intelligent (although I have been forced to re-think my level of intelligence in recent months) and intense… always intense. I have an intimidating posture that I wield like a weapon and I have fine-tuned this ability as a well-trained artisan. I am so good at it I don’t even have to think about it anymore. I turn it on like flipping a switch.

Everything about the way I conducted myself was done in the service of keeping people at arm’s length. And I did it by issuing from moment to moment a warning, an unspoken warning to anyone who came within a twelve foot radius. I am reminded of movies about World War II when there were scenes of barbed wire and those criss-crossing poles to which the wire was attached with a big sign hanging front and center and a warning to those who dared to come near:



But no words were needed. I did not need to provide reasons, I did not need to explain why. Once people got a taste of my approach they rarely had the guts to ask why anyway.

This might sound a bit extreme, it was although truthfully I never gave it any thought. It simply was the way I had become. It became part and parcel of who I was. The extremity does not show it’s face until one starts to put it into words, which I have recently done in my own therapy. Sometimes it makes me laugh, sometimes it makes me cringe. Sometimes it amuses me that I could wield such power over others without even a word and at other times I am ashamed that I have perpetrated this sort of behavior on those that I call my friends and acquaintances.

I am equal parts relieved and repelled in putting this into words on a public forum. Sometimes the benefits of a very small readership are many however

those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not grow weary;
they shall walk and not grow faint.
(Isaiah 40:13)


I do not want to have to give up this sword because I do not want to do what I know I’m going to have to do to make that passage a reality in my life. I know that I’m going to have to lay down my defenses and walk through so much of the pain that has been intrinsic to my life for so many years. A person as well-defended as I am is loath to even SAY the word pain let alone admit to any of it. And yet the rewards will be, I think, beyond anything I could have ever imagined for myself. You see I believe those words in that passage above. I believe, no, in fact I know there are aspects of myself that if tapped into will enable me to exceed anything that I could have imagined for myself, for my life. And I know that there is a way of living that frees up the massive levels of energy that have been necessary to maintain those defenses all these years. And I know that I am about to trade the expenditure of so much negative energy for the incredible lightness of being that is the positive and free-flowing energy of a life lived in service of who I really am.

And I am so excited about the possibilities and oh man I cannot begin to express how much I DO NOT want to do this.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Lion Lays Down with the Lamb

A world where pain and sadness, grief and struggle, all manner of suffering cease to exist. A world where we will see face to face rather than into the dim mirror into which we gaze now. We will gaze directly, we will see clearly the face of God.

The search for self, the search for answers, the search for the meaning of life, what am I doing here? What is all this for? No more questions.

The search for God ends…

Now what?


I do believe that in the midst of our pain and difficulties, in the midst of the pervasive feeling that we are engaged in, that our day to day is pointless, dull, a road to nowhere, we want something or someone to sweep in and give us a point, show us the exact path, give us all the answers that will alleviate our pain, provide excitement and purpose and satisfy the unexplainable longing that burns like a low-grade flame somewhere deep within.

We want someone or something to sweep in, grab us by the hand, whisk us away from our daily drudgery, our dreary, boring existence and bring us to a place of sunshine and blue skies and clear water. Pink drinks with umbrellas in them and reggae music playing in the background (always too loud). No cares, no stress, no pain, no worries.  Wasting away in Margueritaville with all the answers.

But here’s my question: How long can a girl sit on a barstool in the middle of paradise before she gets bored?

In other words what do we do when the search comes to an end?

Eternity is a long time…