Walking the Talk: The Hopeful Therapist
Like the expert surfer, . . . while you cannot control the waves, you can control how you meet them and attune yourself to their energies. So too each person can do little to change the major (and many of the minor) events that shape their lives-but each bears a responsibility for developing and using all the skills that can keep them afloat. (Ross, 1996, p. 76) Happiness lies in the absorption in some vocation that satisfies the soul. (Sir William Osler, in Eisen, 1995, p.73) If I am suicidal, I want a therapist who believes I’m going to live, not die. Even if I am chronically suicidal and have only a smidgen of ambivalence left between me and a lethal attempt, I don’t think I need a healer who has already quit on me psychologically to show me the fatal door with an “I told you so.” I don’t need more treatment, I need a new therapist. (Quinnett, 2005, p. 4)
There are many days when the privilege of doing work that I love and value is a clear and present joy. And then there are other kinds of days, days when clarity and joy are obscured by the volume of e-mail and the unwritten reports or chapters or handouts and the calls to return and the workshops to organize and the shortchanged family time and the unwalked dog and the neglected friends and the unread, enticing novels gathering dust on my shelf. I get tired and discouraged and, well, grouchy. Sometimes when I am feeling that way, I mutter to myself “rich, rich.” This eccentricity is a gift from my friend and colleague, Martha LaCasse. On the too-seldom occasions when we talk, she is sometimes greeted with a list of complaints about all the things
I am trying to do in an unlikely time frame. She listens and murmurs and then in her lovely warm voice she says, “Oh Heather, your life is so rich!” And I pause in my complaint, and feel surprised, and I think “Rich! You think my life is rich?! . . .Well . . . yes. It is rich.” In just that space, with that word, said by that person in that way, my list of impossibilities becomes incontestable evidence of richness. Thank you, Martha.