Sunday, June 18, 2006

start where you are

I really like the title of this book: Start Where You Are. It's so simple yet so meaningful, so powerful, so weighty. It's so full of context and meaning. It brings to mind the song by Nirvana, "Come As You Are," which according to Kurt Cobain is based on an old Christian song. Makes sense. And if that's accurate, then the message of both theses titles are not only coming from a similar contextual place but also evoking a similar invitation to those who are listening.

Dr. Roberts, my psychologist, is a pretty cool guy. (You may recall that I had two therapists for a while. Two weeks ago, I had to stop seeing the other one, Dr. Tepper. With a full-time work schedule now, I no longer have sufficient time to see the two of them during the work week. In addition, he was crosstown on the Upper West Side, which was a bit more difficult to reach from the law firm when time is so limited.) I like him a lot and value very much our meetings, in which he imparts much meaningful perspective and compassion about the issues discussed. He's a Buddhist, which I gather is unique among most therapists. But because of his experience as a psychologist at The Ronald McDonald House, where some of the children there have cancer, he's well equipped, I think, to listen and offer feedback about the multitude of issues that we've talked about since finishing treatment. To me, his Buddhist perspective helps in this process. He's very attentive and seems to always know how to sum up what I'm getting at. Dr. Roberts continues to amaze me with his summations and maxims, which most times hit right at the heart of what I'm debating or struggling with and thus, leaves me humbled, contented, and thankful for his presence in my life.

In our sessions, we've talked a lot about the use of meditation as a means to reduce stress and foster self-control. Many times we'll practice meditation for a couple of minutes during each session. Around the end of my senior year in college, I became very interested in Buddhism. At the time, I read a bit about it becoming familiar with some of its practices and beliefs. The Dhammapada remains one of my favorite books. Kundun, the Martin Scorsese film, became a favorite of mine. I remember going to at least two meetings/lectures by a Buddhist monk at a Tibetan Buddhist center in Manhattan. And in the one time that I traveled to Staten Island alone, I visited the Jacques Marchais Center of Tibetan Art, which resembles a Buddhist temple. So there's a part of me that's very sensitive to the Buddhist school of thought as well as elements of the three monotheistic faiths, though as you'll well aware my relationship with the Big Three is contentious many times.

A bit of that adolescent interest in Buddhism has been rekindled by my interaction with Dr. Roberts. This doesn't mean that I want or am planning to become a Buddhist. It just means that I'm interested to learn more. More fundamentally, I'm interested to improve my life by improving the ways in which I deal with the multifarious situations (some stressful, others enjoyable) that happen to arise from day to day. Obviously my cancer experience has had a central role in this. The introduction of Su into my life has been the newest and best experience and she's helped to pry open the tight hinges of my heart further and further. Asking about suggestions for learning more about Buddhism, he recommended a number of books, one of them being Start Where You Are by Pema Chodron, a Buddhist nun.


Comment Anonymous Anonymous said...

re: your heart. no trouble opening it - the hinges and locks just fell off. same as you've done for mine. love, su

10:43 AM  

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