Client AH.67.109 - Session 1
(Beep. Music fades in.)
You know, you shouldn't worry about it so much. Your office isn't as messy as you think it is. Sure, there's a lot of torn up journals and articles strewn about, but there's some pattern to that chaos. And while your bookshelf looks cluttered at first glance, the second glance is a lot more forgiving. It only looks messy because you keep shoving paper scraps into books while you read, but that doesn't look so bad.
Okay, it is a little unsightly, but it's also a necessity. Kind of. I mean, academics just have to be held to a different standard. You need to be able to have thoughts and then house them outside yourself where there is more space. Quickly. What did you call this habit twenty years ago… an advantage? A leg up for your career?
Okay, I've freaked you out now. Sorry, I didn't mean to do that, but I did need to get your attention. (Music fades in) I now have it. Not in a good way, but I can make do.
You see, I know you aren't the kind to believe in the supernatural. You started playing this podcast merely out of curiosity. Or that's what you thought it was. And you are curious about podcasting. You want to better understand this new “trend,” as you called it. Because, as you argued, it has a lot of potential and might be the root cause of the next big cultural shift That's what you said. You called it curiosity, but now you aren’t so sure.
Going back to that beginning, you felt something that you didn't have a word for. So you guessed, but now I have to tell you that you guessed wrong. Really, you felt this sense of familiarity that drew in a restless soul. I would say that’s a calling. Many people would agree. What about you?
What do you think about this? About this thing and me and everything I'm saying.
(Music fades out and new music fades in)
That's a genuine question. Or several, more accurately Because I do. care about you and what you think. I don't mean to scare you, though I fully understand that is what I did. I didn’t want to scare you, but I had to be sure you are listening.
Take a deep breath. Check your pulse. And by the way you took your heart pills this morning. Give yourself credit. You're a lot better at remembering to take them than you think you are.
Then again, you do have valid reason to be afraid after his passing. Not only because of his passing but also because of the absurd scenarios your brain conjured up as a means of coping with the news. Because he couldn't have just died, right? It didn't matter how old he was. He was better than that. Not above that because that is biologically impossible. But you were both expecting his death to have more theatrics than it ended up having.
Your jokes aside, I can't imagine what you’re going through. I don't say that as a platitude. I genuinely mean it. And don't cite your age or other numbers as a way to dismiss this reality. You are in pain, and that is to be expected. I can't even imagine what it was like to have the love the two of you had. Never mind what it was like to lose it… to live in its aftermath. No, I… I can’t imagine what it’s like to be you right now, and frankly, I’m not trying that hard.
He did love you, by the way. Don't let your hurt take that away. That's not your rational nature talking. It's your sadness trying to feed itself like a cancer, stripping away all that you are and have just for its own growth.
Sadness isn’t always cancer, and cancer is always fatal but (sigh) you are unlucky.
Those things it’s telling you are lies. He loved you. He loved you more than any man has loved his wife.
No, I don't think you're weak. I have no reason to think that. On the other hand, I do think you're human, and the emotions are a dead giveaway. Sorry. I shouldn't have said dead.
But my point is, you are human. Emotions are tied to humanity, and humanity isn't necessarily something to be condemned. After all, he was human. And a very good one at that.
(Music fades out and new music fades in)
At the risk of discrediting myself, I saw him in person. Didn't he frequent the coffee shops by your office building? I've been to the one on the corner several times, and well… he does… he did have a very distinct face.
He went there because he liked the noise, right? He even showed you a study that argued that coffee shop noise is beneficial to the creative process. That's what he told you, but really, he liked being around you. Even being that far away, on the absolute edge of your orbit meant something to him.
Admittedly, I didn't dream that. It came up in conversation once or twice. You know how he was… He'd talk to anyone who looked like they needed a few kind words, and I am perpetually exhausted. So obviously I was in his line of sight.
We all miss him. You know? It doesn't matter how long it has been or will be, I think he will always be missed. The whispers in the hallway that seem to follow you are lamentations of his passing. Not accusations not judgments. Nothing like that. No one is out to condemn you.
But maybe to you it's the all the same. After all, you are the type who wants to be alone with their pain. To what end is a different question. One that you do your best to avoid answering. You and a respectable chunk of the population. If you want my answer as an outsider who wasn't able to stay on the outside, I will say this much It's one of those impulses that doesn't go anywhere. It probably used to protect our ancestors from a predator or two. Then our lives shifted but fragments of our past selves didn’t get the memot.
I think reminds you of another aspect of what it is to be human. The folly of man but not quite. That we design the world without even nodding to all those broken elements of our nature. We made the world without thinking of our quirks and bodies leaving traps and twists along the way. We created mazes, having forgotten that we ourselves can be reduced to lab rats in the right light.
Do you remember saying that to your husband? I know it was a long time ago, but bear with me. You were trying to explain this to him, and he went ahead and got distracted by the way your nose wrinkled when you said it. And you got annoyed because it was a serious matter and an important part of your next big project. The thing that was going to get you tenure.
But that was almost three decades ago. And a moment your husband swore he didn't remember.
Take a deep breath. Steady yourself on your desk if you need to. The oak can bear your weight even if it is imitation.
But don't turn me off just yet. I know you don't want my help. And I can respect that. But this isn't entirely about you. Lift your head. Your office door is open, right? And you can see down the hall to where her cubicle is. The young girl, the child they hired a few months ago. (Pause.) She's not a child, though. She's a young lady. But you weren't so inclined to correct me, were you?
Because that description suits her somehow. It fits her better than her dress does today, doesn’t it?
You see, this isn't just about you. It's about her.
Are you listening
(Music fades out. Beep.)