Friday, May 16, 2014

the "Thursday" effect

A shrink friend of my mother's once summed up his profession approximately with the words, "If a patient tells me two plus two equals five, I can probably help. If a patient tells me two plus two equals Thursday, I am probably out of my depth."

Two plus two equals five is incorrect by most mathematical yardsticks. But everyone has been wrong at one time or another and learned how to correct the mistake. Two plus two equals five is not that bad.

But two plus two equals Thursday is off the charts. It's a whole new and unexpected dimension and universe. It's wacko. It leaves comprehensible communication in the dust. It challenges foregone conclusions and assumptions and meanings. Two plus two equals Thursday is so far out of line that it is easier for the majority to dismiss it ... and thereby assert a socially-acceptable sanity in which two plus two equals five may be the greatest gaff.

I am not especially interested in excusing or elevating or diminishing someone else's sense of sane or demented. But I am interested in the personal proclivities that may send a (wo)man down one particular pathway, gaffs and all, that then, one day, turns out to have been mistaken in dimensional proportions. The experience is probably not the same from individual to individual, but its impact, irrespective of individual coloration, is interesting.

No one, for example, ever signed on to spiritual adventure because s/he was so damned happy. Like as not, something ached or yearned or felt confused. And where things gnaw, the longing for relief rises up and "relief" becomes the spoken or unspoken "why" of spiritual adventure: If something hurts, doing something to make it stop hurting is pretty d'oh. And in this way, corrective measures begin to take hold. Year after year ... good, corrective habits are shaped and reinforced.

But what is it like when "Thursday" arrives and the premise of relief is seen in a whole new light? What if relief were not the point of spiritual adventure at all? All those years, all that yearning, all those exemplary habits ... poof! If the chosen "why" -- the backstop of meaning and direction -- is no longer capable of a credible reality ... what happens then? When a designated meaning is no longer seen as having much meaning at all ... well, what happens when "Thursday" arrives and will not be denied?

Nor is spiritual adventure the only venue in which "Thursday" can raise its head. Think of work or marriage or any number of other long-term, effort-filled adventures. What the fuck is anyone to do when the assumptions simply don't hold water?

Like mice scurrying in the walls, I can hear the scurrying for a happy ending -- a mad, 'compassionate' dash to dimensionalize what has lost its dimension. I am just another mouse on the run and hardly an improvement. But I thought it was worth mentioning that losing dimension is not the end of the world. "Thursday" is just Thursday after all.

And in this regard (or perhaps not), I wrote this elsewhere yesterday:
The teacher's job is to correct the student.
The student's job is far more important because it is s/he who must correct the teacher.
I can't tell if I am kidding around or dead serious.

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