Archive for August, 2013

Buy-in

August 31, 2013

A healer I know explained to me recently that she charges for her services at least in part because in that way her clients bring a more engaged perspective to the encounter.  She said her Reiki training requires her to take a fee (except in certain exceptional circumstances).

At least some twelve-step programs have a tradition of “attraction not promotion,” in terms of relating to others who might be thought to be in a position to benefit from the programs.

These attitudes also help healers and others not cross over into trying to do another person’s work for them, help them keep clearer boundaries, and help them not pour time and energy into a bucket with a persistent hole.

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The teacher came and the student said, “Never mind.”

August 29, 2013

I was using, in a news comment online, the old aphorism about how when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.

Sometimes this happens, and instead of a learning experience, what occurs next is a dissolution:  the student realizes what is entailed and does not follow through.

It can look as if the student was lying about being ready, but I think the problem is that the teacher forgot about free will:  the student has the power to bail out at any time.

What can make a mess of an essentially simple situation is when the teacher has sacrificed on behalf of the student and predicated what they have done in preparation for the teaching on the student’s following through.  That leaves the teacher in an impossible situation.  The student won’t help.  It’s a lesson for the teacher not to go that far for a student.

What has gone wrong is that the teacher had a some personal investment in having the situation work out.  That, together with the student’s capacity to believe their own lies, is enough to have created what looks like a false promise.

The teacher may be left in a difficult situation, but the teacher is the one with the tools and the knowledge.  They know how to let go by simply observing what is going on.  It does not require that the student change what they are doing.  It does require more emotional health on the teacher’s part than the teacher had going into the situation.  But that is between them and God, it’s not about the student.

It’s much easier to see all this if one is a teacher who has been happily married.  Expecting bachelors to navigate this kind of unbalanced relationship is unrealistic.  Expecting bachelor teachers who have been upended by this scenario to ask for help immediately was also unrealistic, but eventually even they got tired of replaying this scene over and over again with the same dismal results.

I can see why they kept at it, though, because the resolution of the situation is very sad and very disappointing, and that’s on top of all the damage done.  It’s kind of like retiring a bad debt and not being seduced into pouring more money into subsequent loans on the hope that this will lead to the entire amount being repaid in the end.

Part of the situation is really what could be called “continuing education” for teachers.  Teachers can have flaws, too.  Teachers may need a tune-up and some gentle supervision, may need some help themselves to bang out a ding to their emotional apparatus.

The teacher can, in time, be grateful to the student for showing them how they have a flaw of wanting to help a student more than serves the greater good of student, teacher, or anything else.  But it’s tough all around.  Nobody walks away unscathed.  When everybody walks away at all, we see it as a success.

In writing, from an accepted source

August 28, 2013

Recently I gave my paper copy of the article “What’s Wrong With Me?” by Meghan O’Rourke in the August 26th issue of The New Yorker magazine to a friend of mine.  Some of what O’Rourke describes my friend had described to me years ago, including symptoms whose difficulty to tolerate is compounded by their difficulty to explain to others without causing further problems for the sufferer.

My friend loved it, brought it to work with her to show a staff member who is also in that same boat, showed it to the boss, the staff member to her husband, and on and on.

It’s a big hit.

I think part of it is the author’s ability to observe so accurately what goes on within her and then to communicate that to the reader.

My friend works with scientists and educators at a very high level, in an elite science research facility.  To persuade people in that context of what it is like to experience autoimmune disorders like Hashimoto’s disease, one needs not only an article with accurate content and articulate presentation, but it really helps if it is published in a magazine recognized by the audience as a good source.

I gave my friend the article thinking it would be helpful to her to read of other people coping with similar unusual symptoms.  I am glad that it turns out to be of help to so many other people.

Cupid’s sting?

August 26, 2013

I got stung on Saturday morning, as I was walking, on the back of my left hand.  I felt something on my hand, and as I brushed it off, its stinger got left behind, although not much imbedded in my skin.

But it was enough.  The site hurt, it swelled, my hand swelled, got hot and red.  I got some first aid from  a shopkeeper friend, and I continued with self-help remedies at home.  Clearly I hadn’t gone into shock, but my track record for getting stings to resolve easily and quickly is not great.  It did seem to get better on Saturday, but, it turns out, the improvement was only temporary.

This morning the red hot swelling was beginning to spread down my wrist .  So I got a doctor’s appointment, and after hearing my history, the doctor concluded I have what is called a “delayed allergic reaction.”

I have been trying to see a positive metaphor in this experience, and I’m wondering if people ever experience falling in love this way.  For example, I’m supposed to alternate treating it with cold packs and hot wet compresses; maybe that’s how people in love sometimes behave towards each other?

I don’t know, maybe I’m stretching this metaphor possibility a bit, but the area burns, and I would like to get something positive out of putting up with this.

Last name

August 25, 2013

Mine is Moses, it’s the last name on my birth certificate.  I didn’t change it when I got married.  Willy was fine with that.

I like having a last name that suggests I may be Jewish.  Apparently it may also suggest I am black, and that’s fine with me, too.

There’s also the fact that there have been a lot of people who have called me by my last name or some variation of it, such as Mose, Moïse, Mosita, McMoses, Moses Toes.

I didn’t want to lose that — what those people in my life were connecting to when they addressed me.

A last name for our children fell into place because Jonas arrived in our lives with a Brazilian double last name, so replacing both parts with our two made plenty of sense.  Of course, the lack of hyphen often gets overridden by the needs of a database computer program that will alphabetize as if Moses is a middle name and use Gilson as the last name if a hyphen is not inserted.  So our children have gotten used to hyphenating and not hyphenating depending on context.

I would say it’s my first name that actually causes me more trouble;  no, Diane is not a nickname for Diana, as far as I’m concerned.  I don’t identify with Diane.  Di, or Di-Di, those I can connect to, but Diane sounds to me as though the person is addressing somebody else.  Unless the person is someone like a bank manager about to fill out some document, I don’t bother correcting people, however.  (I used to, and got some flak when I did, but I think I stopped more because I realized I no longer want to expend the energy dealing with the issue unless I have to.)  I think my mother does correct people when to her they refer to me as Diane.  Maybe she feels her choice of name for me is not being respected, I don’t know.  These days, I also get a lot of “Dianna.”  I’m not sure how that got so preeminent in people’s minds, but many people ask me, “Two n’s?” in a voice expecting a yes.  As I’ve said before, I actually like the way DiAnna looks, but it doesn’t look like my name to me.  Dianna just looks wrong to me, like a typo, for my particular name.

My dad used to sometimes make a pun out of my name and call me “D. Claire Moses.”  But Claire has always seemed pretty foreign to me, too.  It startles me when I see it on my Connecticut bar documents or my Phi Beta Kappa mailings.

But Moses I do relate to, so I’ve kept it.

Ten Years

August 21, 2013

Tomorrow it will have been ten years since Willy died.  I went to the cemetery today.  I wondered if I would feel like going afterwards to the antiques store nearby we used to like to go to together.

I parked my car in the cemetery where I usually do, towards the end of the short road, where it meets a couple of other short roads and it’s easy to turn a car around.  There’s also shade there, and I backed the car along one of the roads to take advantage of that.

Then I got out and walked across towards Willy’s grave.  I spotted a small hawk feather, as I stepped onto the grass, then I saw more feathers, including two big ones, between me and the grave.

I wonder what happened to the hawk.  I saw what looked like pigeon feathers scattered at the other end of the cemetery road, near the gate, as I was leaving the cemetery.  (I got out of my car to see what they were.)  Maybe there was an interaction between the two birds, maybe there was another animal involved, preying on them both — I don’t know enough about how these things go to say.

That’s what I left with, the thought that we get bits of evidence, this and that data points, and we try to make sense of them, often by means of putting them together in a sequence and then adding setting, theme, motivation, etc.  until they tell a coherent story.  Sometimes it very much matters whether the story is accurate, for other purposes it doesn’t.

What does it mean?

August 21, 2013

My mother was telling me about how a scenario she had always wondered about had come to pass today.  It involved needing to go into her house to get money, in this case, smaller bills, in order to pay for a cab ride, while the cabbie waited outside.

Last Friday I had been holding forth to Jordan, as we drove through Lexington Center, about the need to drive really slowly through Lexington Center because of all the crosswalks spanning Mass. Ave.

Today (Tuesday) I was about a block behind a pedestrian accident that occurred in a crosswalk in front of Arlington Town Hall.  I didn’t even realize what it was at first, as it was happening — I thought a bundle had fallen from the roof of vehicle ahead of the vehicles I could see.  I will say no more, not out of callousness but because I don’t really want to write about how horrible it was — obviously for the pedestrian but also for the driver, who immediately exited her vehicle and ran to the person in the road.

What I wanted to ask is whether there is a connection between these concerns of ours and their occurrence in our lives.  Why do we worry about them and why do they occur and are the two at all connected, even in a very loose way, such as that both the worry and the occurrence indicate that we have something we need to learn about these scenarios?

Producing conservatives

August 20, 2013

I read Richard Rohr’s meditation this morning and thought, “Oh dear, it’s that preoccupation with the 1960s.”  I have read elsewhere a different version of this preoccupation, that the ’60s are somehow responsible for sex scandals in the Church.  I don’t think free love in the ’60s had anything to do with pedophilia.  I also really don’t believe that there were no conservatives, or people with the emotional profile Father Rohr is describing, before the impact of the 1960s.  But the dynamic he identifies may be true for some people, that I could see.  And while I’m at it, I’m going to make the point that Father Rohr’s concern, in another meditation, about our having to start from scratch in this life, melts away if we bring in the concept of reincarnation.  I know that I didn’t learn everything I know now through a process of consciously studying it in this lifetime.

We are the bread?

August 18, 2013

Richard Rohr had some daily meditations (here’s one) recently about the Eucharist, and I have been wondering whether it could be seen as parallel to how some other religions view sugar (I tend refer to candy) — we taste the sugar and are transformed, no description of what it tastes like is adequate, we taste it as if someone had popped it into our mouths (during spiritual union), and then, eventually, we come to the realization that we are the sugar, too.

Is that similar with bread?  Sugar connotes an almost pure energy, to me at least, while bread has more of a comforting aspect to it.  So I don’t know if the two substances operate in these images, experiences, and rituals in the same way.

Here’s a possibly related point.  While visiting other people, I picked up on an attitude they were engaging in of dwelling on some very difficult times from years ago.  They wanted me to read material about them and focus on them, and, and this is what sort of tipped me off, walk around constantly as if everything is terrible and we ought to be gloomy, always.  Then they looked to me for comfort and cheering up.

I don’t think one human being can comfort or cheer another out of a deep depression.  I’ve tried.  I cannot reach the person — they have become inaccessible.  To the extent possible, I think people should not do that which is conducive to increasing depression, that ways of reducing it or its likelihood or severity are needed instead.  These people I visited also don’t believe in God.  Which is fine, except that seems to mean they have no effective way of off-loading or dissipating the cares they carry that they cannot handle.  So they turn to me for that, too.  They also engage in self-pity and bitterness.

In my experience it is necessary not to “go there,” into depression, if at all possible.  Some of these people have regained their footing through the use of modern medicine, and I am grateful for that.  But regardless of whether they come predisposed to such mood issues, this over-dwelling on gloom and helplessness and rejection of modes of help seems to me counterproductive.

So my concern about focusing on bread and not sugar is a concern about relying too much on “comfort” to pull us out of a nosedive.  I think the most effective posture is to nip in the bud going down a road that will end in our needing huge amounts of comfort to rescue us.  [How many metaphors did I manage to mix in that sentence?]  I dislike hearing the contemporary mantra that we have to “take care of ourselves,” because it is so vulnerable to (mis)use as a weapon or as an excuse for self-indulgence and lack of consideration for others, for example.  But I do think some version of it is what I’m talking about here:  we need to take care of ourselves as best we can so as not to foster depression.

To the extent that bread instead of sugar orients us towards comfort and not something more energetic, I prefer the sugar motif.  But in point of fact, I love both candy and bread.

At the RMV

August 17, 2013

This is my little contribution to the reality of getting all those government-issued cards — IDs, driver’s licenses, learner’s permits, etc.

Jordan and I went down yesterday, at his request, to the Registry of Motor Vehicles, and it was crowded.  His wait was said to be one hour and 50 minutes.  We settled in, prepared to complete the transaction.

Well, the window he needed to use was proceeding s-l-o-w-l-y.  There were about 21 people ahead of him in his category when we came in, and after 45 minutes, I realized they were taking over 10 minutes to process each person’s transaction.  I did the math, and the wait for us would be about 3 hours at that pace at that point.

But a woman dressed in a pretty flowered dress and classic cardigan sweater, wearing an ID, had come in.  She addressed the crowd from the front of the room.  She apologized for the wait, urged people who could do their business online to leave and do that instead, and encouraged those of us whose business wasn’t urgent, to consider taking a “no wait” card and coming back another day.  She was the Registrar of Motor Vehicles in MA, Rachel Kaprielian.

At first Jordan didn’t want to take a rain check, but when I pointed out the slow pace at his window, he decided to go up to where he could get the “no wait” card.  And while he was on line there, the window he would have needed to use seemed to shut down entirely — its screen went dark and no one new was called up to it.

Apparently the problem yesterday at the Watertown RMV was staffing.  Yes, it was the busiest RMV office that day, but the difference from usual was that they were short-staffed, we were told.

What made me urge Jordan to take the rain check was my realization that we could wait three hours and be told he wouldn’t be processed because time had run out — I don’t think they were making sure they could accommodate everybody they were allowing into the various queues.  When I came once with Jonas years ago, they weren’t going to give him his card, until I intervened — he had all the necessary documents, they just kept giving him a run-around.  When I went up and said I was his mother and what was the problem, suddenly there was none.  I had a similar pattern with him at a hospital ER — he wasn’t examined until I insisted, everybody else in the waiting room who had been there when I had left to pick up Jordan from school had been seen, and he had had a neck injury.  Small white woman walks up and cross-examines them with some intensity and all of a sudden the African-American young man gets the service he was entitled to in the first place.

So this is part of why I personally don’t see voter ID cards as a neutral thing.  Getting a card from the government, I believe, can be difficult for some people, through no fault of their own.  These systems don’t always work as advertized, and it can take multiple tries and much effort to accomplish what it is said should be easy to do.