His “office” is unconventional. The gent’s appearance ranges from casual to shabby. Be assured, however: he provides a potent therapy.
The man’s consulting room is a diner. He doesn’t advertise. Nor will the “counselor” give you his name or say much about himself.
The offered service is free, but not without cost.
A woman finds him in “the booth at the end.” She’s heard about the gentleman, been informed he can “do things.”
The interview begins. The lady belongs to a religious order, though she dresses in everyday clothes. Her residence is a convent where she lives with others like her.
Sister Carmel’s faith vanished. She no longer hears God’s voice, the Almighty’s call. She wants the fellow’s help to get it back.
The “helper” starts by listening. He writes what she relates in a book. Once the Sister states her goal, he flips through the pages for a prescription:
You must become pregnant.
The nun is startled, horrified. Her vow of chastity would be violated. She doesn’t fathom whether or how to proceed.
Can she bargain for another way?
The stranger is eating as they talk. He doesn’t insist anyone take on the remedy he suggests. The decision to go ahead with the required task is always “your choice.”
I can’t do anything. You have to do it.
Little guidance is presented as to “how” to manage the job. Achievement of the chore requires the seeker’s own ingenuity. Those who come with desires often ask for alternatives, something less demanding, dangerous, or harsh.
There are many different resolutions to any given problem. I offer only one. I’m a messenger of opportunity.
Questioning him is unavailing:
Do you believe in God?” Answer: “I believe in the details.
When they hesitate, he reiterates, “It is up to you.”
Additional sessions continue the dialogue. Those who want the help of the person at the diner’s last table are obliged to report their headway. They are promised that once their assignment stands completed, they will receive what they want.
The treatment makes each individual uncomfortable. Their job is difficult, complicated.
Sounds similar to therapy, doesn’t it?
Like psychotherapy, “What one begins one must finish,” an article of faith in the universe of healing, though no one will be forced to complete the process.
Some worry that their actions will harm others. Those repercussions can be severe.
They also wonder how their benefactor accomplishes his work:
There are things I do not know about this world, about people, about how things will turn out. But I know this: there are consequences.
When you start changing the world, you don’t know when the changes are going to stop. No matter what you choose to get, you will be breaking the world as it is.
Indeed, like conventional therapy, the alterations you make in yourself will impact your social network, your family, and your friends.
As the meetings in the restaurant progress, we discover that some of the guru’s visitors hope for the wrong thing. Psychologists call this “miswanting.” They make the mistake of believing if only they could have something — say a dream job or a new baby — life would be transformed for the better permanently.
We are poor affective forecasters — weak at predicting the emotional residue of our choices. Daniel Gilbert and Tim Wilson tell that as time passes, most losses prove less devastating than we first imagined. Equally, most hoped-for gains lose their capacity to sustain the temporary euphoria they offer.
The café “magician” doesn’t say this to his seekers. Yet even without asking, existential dilemmas reveal themselves in the course of their table talk: the shortness of life, the terror of disease and loss; the desire to be prettier, more talented, happier.
The therapist’s business is trading, but it is his clients who must decide what they are willing to trade for what the want. Not just their effort, but their safety, honor, conscience, or freedom.
A detective who is his client gladly goes to jail, though incarceration was not a stated part of the proposed arrangement. The officer was told to find and protect a “corrupt cop.” He has learned of his own corruption and expresses gratitude for the knowledge.
Not all are so satisfied with the work they agree to take on in the diner.
This cable TV series ran for two seasons. It is available on Amazon Prime Video and elsewhere, as well as on DVD.
Though the episodes are quirky, therapeutic truth resides in each of them.
I suggest you tune-in, but remember the words of the man in the eatery: “There are no guarantees.” Just as in the counselor’s office.
Should you watch?
That would be up to you.