Ignore the dancing golden spheres

Douglas Eby at the Creative Mind:

In his post Beauty, God, Death: What is Real Psychotherapy?, Stephen A. Diamond, Ph.D. writes about the 'point' of therapy: 'One of my former mentors, existential psychoanalyst Dr. Rollo May (1909 -1994), passionately argued that psychotherapy should be less about technique or what he pejoratively called ‘gimmicks’ designed to subdue symptoms than about enhancing the patient’s capacity to feel, experience, create, find meaning, and in general to become more receptive and accepting to life and love in both their positive and negative aspects.'

I'm not qualified to talk about the professional merits of that approach to counseling, but the points made by Eby have therapeutic value of another sort. In my view there is no doubt that our ability "to feel, experience, create, find meaning" is directly related to a personal expansiveness and willingness to engage the unfamiliar, not as a spectator, but as a co-creator.

Here's what I mean.

Despite telling the IdeaFestival audience exactly how a trick had been done, Teller had it right in 2008. It didn't diminish the magic. Over the course of 90 minutes, he related the history of a famous trick, how it was stage managed and the hours and hours of practice that it took to get it right. The IdeaFestival event was billed as the "science of magic."

As it turned out, the "gimmicks" that made golden spheres respond to his command were not that important after all. In fact, on reflection I realized that Teller had managed to deliver another kind of magic. While I was watching the mechanics of the trick, I was actually more engaged than I might have been at a Penn and Teller show poised for fireworks. I was simultaneously attentive, open, observant, relaxed and willing to listen to what he was saying.

I left ascendant.  

Even if they don't always end like we'd want, the best stories depend on a capacity for meaning-making. And that's particularly true for the stories we tell about our lives. Dancing spheres only have the power that we give to them.

If you get a chance, read the "Beauty, God, Death...." article linked above.