A Man’s Job
It looked as though it was the women’s job. To talk to me, as a visitor.
In a southwestern suburb of Chicago, the patriarch of the family, close to 80, and his broad-shouldered son-in-law did most of the talking through dinner, largely about matters of sports and engineering. He had fixed an elegant salmon, while his wife—the kind of mother you don’t refuse when she tells you this Sunday dinner a visitor is coming over and you had better do what she says—had prepared the wholesome side dishes, including a crunchy raw broccoli salad. All good brain food. The women made small talk with me.
They hadn’t needed to ask me to dinner in addition to having me over to test THE HUMAN JOURNEY® with them those years ago.
But they were a religious family and hospitality, I guessed, was part of how they do things. We would have dinner and then we would settle into the living room to dig in, to see how the structure of THJ® would take a family of a second husband and wife close to 80, her three middle-aged daughters, two single, one married, and their son-in-law, on a journey of discovery of the ingredients that had formed them prior to birth, the choices they had made in adulthood that had carved out their characters, and the will they had to scythe out a new path into a shared future.
Why were the four women slackjawed by the time the evening was over?
Did it have anything to do with what their laconic octagenerian—perhaps not one for therapy, long intimate talks with his wife or stepdaughters, or extended out-loud reflections—was sharing?
How, when he was grieving his first wife, still having to go to work each day in the greeting-card shop he owned, he was able to heal by helping others select the right card and, at the register, to be a patient listener to the tales of love, relationship, and, occasionally, loss they wanted to share with him?
Or was it the how he was sharing it, seemingly without concern for the time he was taking, the personal discoveries he was making, or the rapt engagement of his family?
The structure of THJ®, the ground rules of the experience, and the presence of an outside “Conductor”—a stranger to him—of the Journey opened out the way for him, I was guessing—and for his family. I suspected there would be further questions posed to him as he and his wife got ready for bed that night or as he and his daughters cleared the table together the following Sunday evening.
That Sunday night was the beginning of a new way for the family to see him and each other, the start of new questions and fresh answers, and a different way of walking together on THE HUMAN JOURNEY®.
So, Who’s the Father?
So, Who’s the Father?” isn’t exactly what a person who’s expecting wants to hear. It can feel like an accusation, like an invasion of privacy, or like a completely irrelevant question, depending on one’s method of conception, key relationships, or plan for childrearing. Even in days when there were fewer methods for conceiving a child or for avenues for getting one to adulthood, Emily Post might have advised just to stick with a hearty congratulations.
Ostranenie: A Fantastic Russian Word
Learn to pronounce ostranenie and impress your friends with your accent as well as with this cool word.
And what a concept … to learn to re-see, as if with new eyes, those things our eyes think they know so well, they no longer see them at all.
To find wonder again and again in the way our sister-in-law calls company in for dinner without the least hint of anxiety, exhaustion, or sense of the extraordinary event.
To learn anew about the people we think we know best.
The Creature Comforts Checklist
This is it our “Creature Comforts Checklist.” It’s an odd name, we know.
We called it that, recognizing that grief is a very physical thing and that sometimes what grievers most need (aside from not being asked if they need anything) is not to talk but to be. Just a creature.
When you’re grieving, you miss the physical presence of the person you lost …
Beyond “In Through the Nose, Out Through the Mouth”
You’ve seen it a thousand times on television. Just a bit of momentary drama to set the stage. It’s a medical show. Someone is having an anxiety attack. Maybe he’s hyperventilating.The medical professional or first responder fixes her eyes on this (typically) mouth breather and
How Can Something Be Neither Good Nor Bad?
It’s super fun to watch someone’s thinking shift right in front of you. They might jerk still suddenly, their eyes wide and long, like old cartoon figures in a haunted house or a dark cave, when all you could see was the eyes. That’s part of the joy
Becoming the Witness
I’m an avid reader of Twitter for its political and epidemiological news, which often appear prior to (and prove more informative than) what can be made available under the rubric of conventional media. I continue to be struck by a story that Pulitzer Prize-winning