“Living well” means finding that passion that is bigger than you, that lures you and seduces you, that blinds you (or distracts you) from what a serious folly it would be to spend any significant amount of time with it, and then going ahead and investing it with every hope, every dream, every ideal that ever meant anything to you – and say “yes.”
Is this an unreasonable stance, especially for someone who is far too “sensitive” (another word for “weak” in humanity’s jungle)? No – such a stance is not nearly intense enough. The world seems to regard “sensitivity” as a failing, not a virtue. And that pisses me off to no end.
Following another miserable relationship failure, I was referred to a social worker at a local hospital. I only remember her as too pretty to talk to, too rich, too much out of my league. After one particularly useless session, I joked (wink) that all I really needed was to work up the nerve to jump off the platform in front of the train at the el stop. The rich and pretty social worker did not have a sense of humor about this sort of thing; I was coerced to “voluntarily” commit myself to the hospital psych ward.
After the week at the institution, city public services hooked me up with another social worker. She started off our first session by reading me the riot act – “pull your weight, or I’ll ship you back to the psych ward myself.” The threat was of secondary influence; the greater persuasion was her promise that she wouldn’t bail after twelve weeks, that as long as I worked at it, she would stay around for as long as it would take.
One of my therapy goals was to understand what I was doing to give women a “just friends” message, the opposite of the message I wanted to give. My self-esteem and self-confidence were pretty much non-existent, so I relied on a lot of humorous self-deprecation. I didn’t think I had much to offer, that women were far more interested in my mind than in my body.
The therapist felt I misjudged the power of the connection between the mind and the body. She claimed that the power of mind, of language, of words, was much more intimately intertwined with the body than I might think, and that this was probably truer of women’s experience than of men’s. “Never underestimate the power of words,” is the paraphrase I remember. I was glad to hear it: maybe I could charm my way into a beloved’s thoughts, past the body no one fantasizes about.
Thirty plus years later, I wonder whether “the power of words” is only a crutch of an idea that keeps me going. Words will get you noticed – but will they close the deal? There is another whole level to this game – and I have no idea how to play it.