Some days it seems my calling is to light myself on fire so that I can help other people see the path to enlightenment. That’s how it feels to me. I remember a guy at my old job used to have a poster that showed the Titanic sinking and the caption “It could be that your entire purpose is to serve as a warning to others.” Maybe we all do our time being that warning. Maybe that explains why Dr. Thegan was being snippy…
“Nobody is reading this story, Mr. Smith. Why bother writing another chapter?”
“Wow, you seemed so happy our last visit.”
“When was that?”
“A long time ago.”
“Exactly,” she huffed.
So my imaginary therapist was mad at me for not imagining I was visiting her more often.
“Listen, Dr. Thegan, dealing with me productively IS something you are supposed to be good at, right?”
I wasn’t in the mood to have my imaginary characters sassing back at me. Why without me, this whole story that nobody reads wouldn’t even exist (and since nobody reads it but me, I guess that’s not much for her to go on).
“I have been in considerable pain for months. All this creativity, and all this progress has lead me nowhere. Right now, all I wanted to do was sleep, but the stabbing pain behind my eyes won’t let me. The acid churning in my stomach won’t let me. And I am supposed to function tomorrow because my employer depends on it, my family depends on it, and even I depend on it.”
“Such a beautiful sob story, Mr. Smith. Why don’t you read the last couple of chapters… you can READ what you write, correct?”
“Why are you being so mean?”
“Because you aren’t paying attention to what I say… and what I say comes from YOU. To make this simple: You aren’t listening to YOU. You aren’t learning from yourself, even when you give yourself good advice. What should you have done this year? It’s November, have you figured it out?”
I knew the answer, and I didn’t know the answer. I knew I should be exercising more, I knew I should have focused on the most meaningful tasks and gotten them done, I knew I should have been able to launch at least one venture of some kind, I knew I should have talked to my children more often, and…I knew I had not done those things.
“So,” Dr. Thegan continued, after my silence appeared to have answered the rhetorical question,” why bother with another chapter, unless you are going to do something different?”
I still wasn’t ready to talk. I was dumfounded that I had gotten the better of me, and I decided I needed to listen to me lecture myself some more.
“What did I do after I found my ballet slippers, Mr. Smith? Nothing. I put them back in the damn box, and I felt better because I had found them. I felt better because they were there. But I’m still a therapist. I am not any closer to being a ballerina, am I? I don’t even want to be a ballerina anymore. Do you see your pattern yet?”
“I own my choices, Dr. Thegan.”
“That’s a great start, and you’ve been enjoying that great start for decades. What are the things you want from this life, Mr. Smith? Is it a poster or is it a game? Is it a floor plan, or is it a house? Is it an idea, or is it a reality?”
“I guess I should probably decide.”
“Yes. Yes you should, and you probably should NOT wait 6 months before talking to me again. And you should probably put something together that you can ACT on that speaks to all the facets of your life that you keep saying you want to address.”
I got up out of the comfortable chair. I was exhausted, my whole body was aching, and I could barely see the world – my vision had deteriorated so badly. It was 3 A.M.
I needed to sleep on it. But more importantly, I needed to wake-up and take action on it.