That again. I’m supposed to visit my soul, as if I’ve never gone there before, as if today I’ll find an escape out of the gloom and float free.
“What?” I answer, pretending I didn’t understand.
“What is your life about?” repeats my lady shrink.
Okay, so this is how we start 2013.
“My life is about…” I pause, rolling my eyes, like I’m going deep. “I guess my life is about, what my life ISN’T about; the stuff I wanted to happen but couldn’t get done.”
“Yes, we covered that,” she says, adjusting her black framed glasses. “You don’t feel good enough. But for now I want you to throw that thought away. Think about what you HAVE accomplished and why, and the choices you’ve made to avert the things you wanted.”
Wait… This is new. Avert the things I wanted? I look at her. “You’re saying I’ve deliberately failed?”
“Irv,” she continues, “I’m breaking all the rules here but your resistance is getting in the way. So here’s my uncensored professional opinion.”
“One… Some, if not all of the things you want, or think you want, is NOT what you want. Not at your core.”
“And two… If you do want something and you’re clear about it, you’re not willing to conform to the rules to get it. Or make the sacrifices. So you really don’t want those things as much as you think you do.”
“You don’t know me,” I assert, with a tone of indignation.
“I know this much,” she says. “It’s more important to know WHY you want something, than just wanting it.”
“It’s not complicated. I want to accomplish something important.”
“But why? Because the answer to that, is key to your happiness. And Irv, you’re not happy.”
“For a few seconds a year I am.”
“Why are you unhappy the rest of the time?”
Man, she always goes there! “I was born that way!”
“I told you! I’m not succeeding!”
“In getting what you DON’T want?”
“No, I want it.”
“We’ve discussed it. As crass as it sounds, I want to be rich and famous.”
“For the same reasons now as last year. If I were in demand, my life would be secure. And money solves problems.”
“It didn’t save Steve Job.”
“Yeah! I want to be like him, but nicer.”
“Well, there’s that.”
“So how much fame and fortune is enough?” she asks me, clicking her pen to write.
“Enough so I never have to worry about it. Enough so wherever I go, I have friends.”
“Like Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber have fans?”
“Like Warren Buffett has devotees.”
“So you want admirers.”
“WHAT? Everyone wants to be liked and loved!”
“Yes. But many people believe they already are.”
“I’m liked and loved.”
“But you say, not enough.”
“Is this the part where I blame my parents?”
“Irv, you will never reach those goals because they are not YOU. What you have, what you’ve done, THAT is who you are.”
“Then I don’t want to be who I am.”
“Because I’m destined for greatness!”
“Who told you that?”
“They lied. You’re slightly better than average.”
God! That hurt!
Lying on her couch, I turn away and look at the wall, which could use a coat of paint above the paneling. And knotty pine is so OUT, like forty years ago out.
I hear a tissue being pulled from the box. I extend my arm and she hands me a wad of Kleenex, which now goes to my eyes to dry them.
“What’s wrong with being average?” she asks, as if she didn’t know the answer.
My head pivots back to her. “What’s wrong with being average? I’ll disappear into the throngs! I’ll blend in and no one will notice me. Or even find me. Or care! Because if I’m just another marble in the box, my value is zip! Why would people want to love me if I’m just another dot in the landscape?”
“People will value you, if you value THEM. Making a difference is not about people loving YOU. It’s about you loving people.”
I hate advice like that.
“Are you loving people, Irv?”
Another loaded question, which will not get answered.
“Irv… Look at me.”
“No!” I bark. “I’m not into warm and fuzzy! I tried it over and over and got shot down!”
“And why was that?”
“How the hell do I know? Most people are selfish, uncaring, insensitive and greedy! Not to mention boring! So we didn’t click. There’s nothing I can do about it!”
“You can be tolerant and less critical.”
“And phony? You want me to be phony to get along? I HATE phony! I hate people pretending to care about me when they don’t. And I hate pretending the same thing!”
She writes a note. “So you steer around the selfish, uncaring, insensitive, greedy and boring crowds; the ones you want to admire you.”
I don’t need this! My eyes dart to the ceiling, a place I hide when sessions go south.
Oh… That’s new. Those two broken acoustic tiles got replaced. But they don’t match. They’re snowy white and all the old ones are dingy gray. They should make gray tiles to match the… Wow. This ceiling’s gotta be seventy years old.
I glance to my right.
“You’re ignoring me,” she states.
“No I’m not. I’m thinking.”
“Your office needs a remodel.”
“Anything about you?
“You mean, like, I want to be liked by people I don’t like?”
“Why would people like you if you don’t like them?”
“They don’t know I don’t like them.”
She lowers her pad, looking me in the eyes. “You can’t hide feelings.”
“You always say that.”
“Do you believe it?”
She groans. “Irv, what’s your impression of the world’s population?”
“It’s in trouble.”
“Do want to be part of that trouble?”
“So you’re telling me you want fame and fortune from a world you don’t want to live in. Can you see how that might be a contradiction?”
“I didn’t start out that way. I wanted to fit in.”
“No. Growing up I never had many friends. I didn’t feel comfortable in clubs. Didn’t hang out with buddies after school or work. Still don’t. I guess that’s just me: Different…but average.”
“You’ve told me your wife loved you.”
“Totally. I could never figure out why. And then she died.”
“Do you love yourself, Irv?”
“What’s to love? I’m average.”
“Are you kind to others?”
“I try to be.”
“Not enough. Dana was always giving to charities and needy people. It’s not natural for me to give away money but I do it anyway, on principle.”
“Do you help friends and colleagues when they ask for it?”
“Do you thank people for their help and gifts?”
“Absolutely. Because I would want them to thank me.”
“And you reciprocate their interest in you?
“All the time. If they’re really my friends.”
“Then what’s not to love about you? What more is expected of anyone?”
Man, what universe is SHE living in? We’re all competing, and not everyone can come in first. Or even tenth. My mind goes to my earliest days, as I mutter, “Someday you’ll make it.”
“What did you say?” she asks.
“Someday you’ll make it,” I repeat, raising my head. “That’s what my dad always said, even into my thirties. Someday you’ll make it.”
“Well Irv. That’s it. You’ve become your own father. You’ve got to stop the judgments…the beatings…the torture of trying to prove yourself TO yourself.”
“Easier said than done.”
“Yes,” she nods. “But you have to try. That’s what ‘making it’ is all about.”
This post originally published on Curiosityquills.com.