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Posted By Opening the Heart

   I have been seeing Carolyn in therapy in my office for over five years. She gave me permission to share this story and I agreed to change the details to protect privacy. Carolyn was sexually abused for many years by her grandfather growing up, while her mother did not have the strength of character to protect her.

   Carolyn's first marriage ended after continuous abuse when he ran off with another woman. Carolyn was in a second bad marriage when she first came to see me. She did  what I call 'soul retrieval' work: learning how to speak up and to take healthy care of herself and to stop taking care of wounded men. She had begun to think about a future and even the possibility of dating again, though she expressed fear about this.

   I remember one day in my office, very clearly, when she just became silent. She closed her eyes and, finally, opened them, wet with tears, and looked right at me with those piercing, sad eyes and she said "Jon, are there any good men in the world?" I waited for the question to settle and then told her what I believe: "There are, absolutely, Carolyn!"

   A year and a half later she found a good man and began to see him on a regular basis. I told her what I believed, again, which was not that a "good man" finally appeared, but that, because she was seeing the world through wiser, clearer eyes, she was making coices, all kinds of choices, that were more in alignment with her Deep Knowing, her intuition.

   "He may not be the man of my dreams, Jon, and, in some ways, he doesn't 'get me', but he's a good man. We laugh and cook together and have fun." She told me he had lost his wife five years before in a car accident and she had been the love of his life, and he still could not stop thinking about her and grieving her going away. "He doesn't talk about feelings or his growing up, but he's kind", Carolyn said.

   Carolyn told me that he recently took her to a beautiful rock looking west into Narragansett Bay and, after a silence, Richard said to Carolyn, and to the wind "I remember my father took me fishing here...." This was the kind of opening Carolyn said he almost never gave her. She waited, watching the surf break on the rocks as the sun set lower in the sky. "Can I talk to him, Richard? I feel him here". He looked confused but he sais "Yes"....

   "John, I'm Carolyn and I'm going out with your son. I wanted you to know what a good man he turned out to be. He builds beautiful homes and he is a loving and kind man. He doesn't have a great sense of humor, but we laugh a lot anyway. Thank you for being his father and thank you for this moment." Carolyn watched Richard's eyes mist over and then she asked  Richard if he ever brought Lauren (his wife) to this rock. He said "Yes". Carolyn asked if it would be okay if she talked to Lauren. Richard agreed....

   "Lauren, if you didn't already know, Richard has loved you with all his heart. He has not stopped thinking about you even one day since you left. Your leaving left a very big hole in his heart that no one can ever really fill. We hang out together. We take walks, we cook and we have fun and I know sometimes, when he doesn't think I'm looking, I see him remembering you in those deep, sad eyes of his. Thank you for letting me share time with him. I will take very loving care of him".... Carolyn saw a tear fall from Richard's eyes onto the Rock of Remembering. As the sun set, he took her hand and, silently, they walked back to the car.

   With Love and Respect, Jon Jon


Posted By Opening the Heart

   A patient that I see in my office recently told me that a friend of his died suddenly of pancreatic carncer. "She was a landscape artist-only 62 years old!" I thought how sad for my patient and for this landscape artist's children and community. And I began to wonder how do you "get" the whole of someone else's life and communicate it to those still living. Even the people closest to someone who dies, don't know all of the - what should we call them - "facts". There's a famous science fiction writer who tells of a person whose purpose it is to be "the speaker for the dead". This person does all the "research" and then, at a public gathering like a funeral or a wake, they "speak" for the person who has died. They tell the whole truth, the good and the harder to hear things that represent the life of the one who has passed. The idea intrigued me - of how you take the measure of one's life.

   I've been to a number of funerals and been moved to tears by the stories and deeds shared by loved ones. We come to "know" the person who died by what they did, what they accomplished when they were living. For me, this summing up, or eulogy if you will, begins to bump right up against the deepest of all questions: What is our purpose on earth? What are we here for? This is just my own take on this: we're here to learn how to be kinder more loving people. Bob Franke is a songwriter and he wrote "What can you do with each moment of your life but love til you love love it away- love til you love it away". Hafiz, the 14th century Sufi poet, in one of his poems talked of how everyone wants to be loved and he asks us to consider doing something different: not to be loved, but to love:

       "Why not become the one who lives with a full moon

       in each eye that is always saying,

       with that sweet moon language,

       what every other eye in this world is dying to hear?"

   So here's my solution to how to define the sum of a life lived. At birth we would all have a microchip subcutaneously implanted that would measure serotonin surges every time we do a loving deed as we go through our life- every time we practice a random act of kindness, every time we work in a soup kitchen and don't tell anyone about it, every time we hold another who is lost or defeated, every time we let another car go in front of us. Every time we are loving, the Serotonin Surge Implant (SRI) measures on the microchip and the greater the number is, the greater the life lived.

   There's a bumper sticker that used to say "The one with the most toys at the end, wins". Well, the new mantra would be "The one with the highest SRI score is the most honored". This, I think, is what we were made for: to do good by loving others and, therefor, making the world a kinder, better place. We would become what we were always meant to be- not just with our family and friends but with strangers. On a Friday night at an Opening the Heart Workshop, as we look around the circle, we are all strangers. Some 40 hours later, people look around that same circle with a full moon eye, giving what every other eye in this world is dying to know.

   With Love and Respect, Jon