Tomorrow is the official start of Ednet 2010, an education networking event, primarily for education publishers, run by MDR.
Even before the event started, today I learned the secret of life.
I took Amtrak from Stamford to Boston, and sat next to a psychotherapist. I don’t remember if I asked him to tell me what lessons he'd learned from his patients, or if the conversation just naturally went that way, but there were three fascinating stories and lessons.
Story 1: He was treating a man in his early twenties for a few months. The man's parents had separated or divorced and gotten back together or remarried five times. One day, the patient came in, and his whole demeanor had changed. "I was out with a friend of mine, and he asked why I'd let this wild back-and-forth of my parents drive me crazy. He told me, 'Why are you so invested in it? It's their lives, not yours. You know what the difference between old people and us is? They're just older than us. You think they should be experts, but they're just living out their lives; they don't have a manual. There is no manual. They're not experts; they're just older.' And it just hit me, and I'm okay."
Lesson 1: There is no manual to life, we're all doing the best we can, and the biggest difference between older people and younger ones is that the older ones are older.
Story 2: About 20 years ago, he was treating a 60-65 year old man. The man was a genius: MIT graduate, researcher, university professor, author, the whole works. But, as we all get older, we all think about the meaning of life, we all need to come to grips with the end: when we're gone, what are we going to hang our hat on, what was the meaning of our lives. And this depressed that individual to the point he needed treatment, for about a year. One day, he came into the office and announced, "I've found the meaning of life."
Patient: "There isn't any."
Shrink, to himself, "Now he's really depressed, what do I do now?"
Patient, continuing: "I understand and I'm fine. When my time comes, I need to ask myself, 'Were you open to the rapture of living?' And I have been, and I will be, and I'm content."
Lesson 2: Be open to the rapture of living.
Story 3: He was treating another 60 year old man, a widower. The man's wife died about ten years earlier, and he was lonely and depressed.
The trouble is, the rest of the story, and the lesson learned, are a little too obscene to publish in a blog. You'll have to ask me about it next time you see me.