Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Boston; Gaza; Vassar, MI; Chelsea, MA

            It rained today and I’m not working, so I got to read the paper, and check out blogs and tweets.  Depressing.

            It’s obvious that people are not being treated well all over the world.  There is lots of blame going around, and it’s true, everyone’s at fault.

            There is a big trial coming to a close in Boston in which the head of the state’s Probation Department is being accused of and giving out jobs as political favors.  It seems that a lot of people  got jobs or promotions in his department,  because of who advocated for them, not because they were the most qualified.
            The defense was kind of “So, doesn’t everybody?”
            And that’s a valid defense.  The people in the state legislature, and even some judges who “recommended” people for jobs never gave it a second thought.  They were doing favors for their friends and constituents. Isn't that what they are there for?
            That’s how we got the great financial mess of five years ago: people did what they were told to do, sell mortgages to anyone who wanted them.  Everyone was doing it.
            A certain group of people traded very risky derivatives, pretty much without realizing how much risk was involved, mostly because almost everyone in their circle of colleagues was doing the same thing, and everyone was making a lot of money doing it.  It seemed like a pretty attractive idea.
            Why are the people of Gaza shooting rockets into Israel?  Because many of them feel that Israel wants to drive them into the sea, and if you don’t feel that way you run the chance that your neighbors will shoot you.  Of course, the Israelis feel the same way about Hamas.  And this has been going on for seventy years.
            Why does a big brother smack his little brother.  Partly because he is bigger and he realizes this, and often because his father, who is even bigger, smacks him.

            What I am saying is what I learned from doing therapy for forty years, and what I learned from reading about Family Therapy.  Rarely is it one mean, crazy, evil individual who is the problem.  Almost always it is a system that either lazy and sloppy and then corrupted, or else the system becomes too efficient, too powerful and loses perspective.
            As individuals, we are all part of many systems, some we aren’t even aware of, like our families.  We just go with the flow and think as we have been raised to think—which  to all of us, is the “right” way.  At work we think the way the company does, because that’s what we are paid to do. Nationally, we all try to think about what is best for our country. What we think is best, seems to depend a lot on where in the country we are, what our neighbors think, and what we read.

Example: Child immigration:
            #1 – Vassar, MI --Why should we, as a community, take care of kids from Guatemala, whose parents sent them to the U.S. under false information?  If we put them in our schools it will be expensive.  They don’t know our language, they have different customs, they have lots of problems and few skills, and it will change the nature of our community, which we  have come to love.

That certainly seems like a reasonable concern.

            #2.  -- Chelsea, MA-- Poor innocent kids are fleeing from terrible dangerous conditions. If their own parents feel that it is probably better for them to get away and try to make it in America, how can we turn them away and send them back to a very dangerous place – especially when we have caused a lot of those problems by buying all those drugs, and exploiting many Central American countries.

            That is not unreasonable either.

            I have my own answer, but I really don’t know if it is the best answer.  But I do believe that by just staying around the folks we know, the ones who think the way we do, and then blaming and castigating those who think differently, that nothing will get resolved, and things will get worse.  That’s been history, from Helen of Troy to the Islamic State of Iraq.

            It is very, very difficult to go against the tide, especially when everyone near you is being swept along so it appears as if nothing is moving, when in fact we are all about to go over the falls, again.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Do- Overs?

I have now gone for the longest time without seeing a patient in 42 years.  It still seems very strange.  I am also still getting messages, questions and requests from people I have seen in the past.  So many seem to think that I will still see them, even if I've closed the practice to everyone else.

Part of me feels as if I am waiting for the next stage of my life to emerge, and I guess I am, but a large part of me is very content to let that happen after the summer has slipped by.  We have been very busy down here at the beach house.  I had thought "wow" I will be here all summer I will have so much time to think and reflect.  But the truth is that although ideas have been racing through my head, between babies, friends, and activities, there has been no time to really make them clear or get them into any distilled form. I looked at the calendar and found that almost every day will be busy until September 14, at which time things will get busier as our last grandchild is expected then.

What has been interesting is that so many of the the thoughts that flare-up in my mind have been memories of things I did wrong.  Most of them relate to patients.  The things I did wrong with patients fall into a few major categories: there were many who I like so much that I underestimated how crazy they were, and thus encouraged them to keep trying at things they really couldn't do.  There were others who fooled me into believing they really wanted to get their act together and overcome the emotional and physical options they faced, but once they got some form of disability check they disappeared.  There were still other whom I just did not like.

These thought come up much more than memories of the many people who did well, the many who really thanked me, the many who kept in touch long after the treatment ended.  It would make me happier if my mind wandered in that direction.  But so far, it hasn't.

I guess I have what is called a high Zeigarnik Effect.  I remember the unfinished much more than the finished.  They say that has some evolutionary adaptive value and that's why it is so common.  I find it frustrating to remember how frustrated I often was. And now the world has moved on and there is nothing to be done.

I must learn to move on also.  The wind is blowing very hard off the water; it blows away as mcuh as it can.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Better this way

I have been mentioning some of the ambivalence I feel about giving up my practice; how I kind of feel as if I'm getting away with something.

It has only been about two or three weeks, but I can tell you one thing clearly:  not working is much easier and healthier than working ( if you have enough money).

During the last few years of working I could feel my body getting old.  The arthritis in my neck seemed to bother me more often and I found myself taking Ibuprofen once, twice or even three times a week.  I also had several minor problems with my back, knees and shoulders.

I think I can state pretty clearly now that a lot of it was from sitting so long, either in my "therapy chair" or at the computer.  Even in a very comfortable, supportive, good-posture chair,  I was sitting too long, holding my head in mostly the same position, and not moving much of my body.

In the past three weeks I have climbed a mountain, done a lot of chasing of three children under four, sometimes in and out of the water, rode my bike to and from town many times, walked the length of a long beach several times,moved tools around, moved garden stuff, gone up and down two-hundred flights of stairs just moving things and going places. and in general been much more active than any time in the last ten years.  All of this was done naturally, and in the flow of the day, not at a gym or doing some specific exercise routine, except for about ten minutes of stretching most days.

And I feel great.  I haven't even thought about taking any pain pills or needing some other remedies.
There is very little tension, more freedom, and less stiffness and hardly any pain.  I can't really run far or fast.  I'm not about to play basketball again, which I miss, and don't expect to challenge myself to perform amazing physical feats that would break me in half.

But, I think working, at least working full-time or more, in order to pay bills and help keep a family going,  is pretty hazardous to every one's health, especially after fifty-three. And I certainly was not in a physically demanding profession, which I guess, was part of the problem.

While not working, hard, ever, is not good for your mind, well-being or your place in the universe.

It helps a lot of enjoy whatever it is you're doing.  But even then, you can't be a goalie for very long.