When you get old enough, survival becomes a kind of distinction. I was therefore not surprised when my interview by Masters in Counseling was called, Career Longevity in Psychotherapy with Dr. Gerald Stein. For those who would like to know how I sound, here is a chance to find out what this 70-plus-personage knows about that and several other topics; from — pardon me — the horse’s mouth.
If you listen, you will hear my kind interviewer Megan Hawksworth, herself a therapist, tell you why she claims I’m worth attention. My response to her request for “words of wisdom” was, “I have lots of words, but I’m not sure how many of them are wise.” Later however — my brain stirring — I asked myself, “How have I come to know whatever it is I know (or think I know) beyond what I learned in school?”
Well, maybe the most important way was being open to new ideas. A conversation shouldn’t always be about defending yourself or trying to win, but listening and evaluating what the other says. Not to apologize, not to defer, but to enter regions beyond one’s imagination and experience; to be enlarged by such gifted souls as still walk the earth. I can say I prefer the company of people who possess ideas I’ve not considered to those who think as I do or live as I do.
Getting “banged-up” also contributed to my enlightenment. Not just physical dings, and dents, and divots; surgeries and sedation and stitches.
I’ve strived and failed. I’ve tried and triumphed. Once I won a battle and lost some friends who opposed me. I’ve been cheated of lots of money. I gave away plenty, too. I helped a philanthropy I started with friends raise funds. My heart has been broken by a few lovely women and I’ve broken a few hearts.
What might be worse? Breaking your love’s heart and your own simultaneously. It happens.
Are those words of wisdom? If you think so, here are 10 more:
- Over time I learned to give sentiments a prominent place beside clarity of thought: laughter and tears, both, but love above all.
- Disappointment and loss are the forge of character, but only if you pass beneath and beyond the blacksmith’s hammer without losing your faith in the promise of life.
- There are things I cannot possibly convey to you unless you’ve lived some version of the same event. Only music might come close to communicating them.
- Much as I am a hard guy sometimes, kindness is essential and in shorter supply than macho competition; and therefore, more precious.
- I know I will never know everything, though I try.
- Life moves too fast to keep up with all that is important. How do we know what is important? Pay attention, at least, to the words of William Bruce Cameron:
Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.
- While the probable is most likely to occur, many improbable things will happen in any life. Be grateful for the ones that give you joy. And perhaps, if you realize your luck could have been otherwise, disperse your good fortune to others by paying it forward.
- Whatever wisdom I own today applies more to the present version of myself than the 30 or 50-year-old models. I did not know then all I am relating to you now.
- Smile at the checkout clerks and call them by name.
- No one can “have it all.” If anyone ever accomplished this miracle, we never met. Life is rich without “everything.”
Enough. If you listen to the interview you will hear the voice my patients heard; hear me tell a joke, a story, and have a good time. I am indebted to Megan and Scott Hawksworth for giving me the chance. I think you’ll be able to tell that, too.
Do remember, you won’t be listening to an immortal personage. I subscribe to Woody Allen’s words on the subject: “I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work; I want to achieve immortality by not dying.”
Here again is the link: Career Longevity in Psychotherapy with Dr. Gerald Stein.
The photo just above is the author during his days as a cowboy. Unfortunately, it does not include the horse’s mouth mentioned in the first paragraph.