Friday, November 2, 2012


To Dr. Amy with Affection, Gratitude and Astonishment.

You will  be relieved to know I see a therapist. 

When someone asks, “How often do you see her?"
I  reply, “As much as possible and not a minute too

soon!” She of Infinite Wisdom, Blessed Be Her

Name, has guided me away from many a near-  

fatal faceplant. I call her Dr. ABC, not only 

because those are her actual initials, but also

because she keeps me grounded in the basics. 

Such as gently, steadfastly asking me whether the 

direction I’m headed is the only one, and if not, 

what are the alternatives? Like, maybe not the one 

headed for the brick wall?

Recently, I dragged myself to her office from the

Valley of Cherry Garcia. For those of you who are

unfamiliar with this bleak terrain, count yourself

lucky. (You can learn more about these sad state if you read my essays “Love, Loss and Strutting into the Future” and Okay, Speed It Up!”.)  If you have ever found yourself in that Pit of Despair, I don’t have to describe it to you. You already know that you can not fix a broken heart with a month of facedown bed rest and a constant supply of sugary snacks.

Time to call in the specialist.

Dr. ABC has acquainted me with an unusual 

concept known as “Mindfulness.” It sounds 

bizarre, but it’s where you actually stop and think
about whether or not your emotions are based on 

facts.  It turns out there's a difference. Example:

let’s say you have a nightmare that you’re being

chased by a monster and wake up in a cold sweat 

with your heart beating 100 miles a minute. 

Someone tells you the monster isn't real, but your 

agitated state suggests otherwise. 

That’s how your emotions trick you into thinking

they’re an accurate gauge of reality. You feel

them, so they must be legit, right? But when you 

look at the facts of what actually happened ("It

was only a dream"), you realize you can climb 

right back in the cockpit and fly the plane. 

Once you’ve removed the dire, “prepare-for-crash-

landing” panic, you can move freely about the 

cabin, as if the pilot had turned off the “Fasten

Your Safety Belt” sign. Lower the tray table and 

order a drinky-poo, if you'll allow me to pound 

this metaphor into the dust.

It’s good to have different choices of how to

respond, rather than automatically downshifting 

into despair. When you choose to let the facts 

steer you, suddenly the "road not taken doesn't 

look so appealing.

Especially when you can see that road would have

taken you right over a cliff. 

That's when it's good to have a friend in the
control tower.