Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

People’s Lives

Originally posted on July 4, 2012

I continue to marvel as I become increasingly aware of the sheer complexity of people’s lives. Of course I know all this, perhaps better than most; but the point is that I continue to “get” more deeply the sheer number of stories—threads of becoming—that weave together. I’ve been a little more into the theme of “story” lately, now that I’ve shaken off the hypnosis of the cultural standards that it’s not a story unless it has a beginning, middle and end. Most people-stories have beginning(s) in early life experience, temperament (and stories that illustrate this), historical antecedents and influences, the peculiarities of the individuality of close others, and on and on—and these stories thicken and grow thin and maybe later thicken again, or blossom, or come to a crisis point as life goes on. Often they have cris-crossed with other stories or roles or parts of the self-becoming process.

As a psychiatrists I got close but still not close enough. There was a bit too much focus in the 1960s through 1990s on people’s stated problems. As I’ve matured I’ve become aware that there were many avenues I didn’t have a chance to leisurely inquire about—their spirituality, what supported their morale or spirit, what other aggravations dragged them down.

I’ve also realized that as a medical professional I was secretly half in a journalist role, or writer of biographies. Sometimes just reflecting back to clients that their lives do have meaningful threads, and naming a few—this itself is powerful if they’ve never named it themselves or had it reflected by others. It seems to me that live 40 – 100 story lines, and the key implicit question is: “How did you come to be …?” What led you into follies, patterns of innocence, disillusion, taking your strengths to an extreme, or your weaknesses, compensating for other weaknesses or disguising or hiding certain strengths, believing certain norms or rules about life that turned out to be illusory, going through the disillusionment process, what you built instead as a new schema, and perhaps needing again to revise it radically or fine tune it… so many stories. Whether heart-rendingly poignant or still elegantly complex, there are stories here that make the best written novels pale in their lack of sufficient dimensionality.

This fits with another revelation that has been impressed on me more vividly: Part of me objects, whining, “Why does it have to be so complicated?” That’s a very childish part that feels entitled to the world fitting my narrow consciousness. As I’ve grown, so have my guardian angels, and Uncle Bud replied recently, “Friendy-Pal, you have no idea how complicated it really is, how complicated even one life is.” “But I’m the guy they think knows!” I protest. “Yeah, yeah,” smiles Uncle Bud (my main dialog-ing guardian angel), and relatively you know—relative to many people; but relative to what really is, you are just beginning to get a glimpse and it almost overloads your circuits. Yes, it is indeed very very complex, even for the simplest person, if we include all the vicissitudes of the unconscious. Once again I reply my almost-mantra: Wowsie-Woozie! 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *