I’ll reference several books here. Don’t be fooled. I’m no longer the focused reader I was when I was little, geeking out on the stacks of books I’d bring home from the library. Today I’ve still got stacks of books but mostly I skim, gleaning for top-line ideas. Things I’m reading lately pertain closely to the topics that came up a lot in sessions over the holidays – family, isolation, depression, anxiety.
In The Gift of Therapy, Irvin Yalom wrote that freedom is a topic that rarely comes up in therapy, which is weird. I bring it up often with my clients. We talk about Kierkegaard’s term – the dizziness of freedom – and how hard it can be, particularly for so many of my clients who are freelance and single, to identify and stay on a course that brings reliable or continuous professional and relational satisfaction. Particularly at the holidays when work tends to slow down even in The Industry, people are left figuring out how to fill up voids that are left when busy-ness and deadlines fade.
There’s lots to say about all of this but in this moment, I want to offer an author, two books, for those who are struggling to makes sense of a modern world that can feel like TOO MUCH and TOO LITTLE at the same time. Annie Dillard is a favorite. I like her because she is super curious and prolific in her writings about the natural world, and she lives boldly in it. I was surprised early on to learn she was a Christian, as I didn’t think those with scientific minds would believe in a personified god. (Later in life she did become, as she put it “spiritually promiscuous”.) How can you keep ANY faith in a world that can be so filled with horror and injustice? Annie’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, and For the Time Being respond to this question.
A comparative religious studies and Asian studies major in my undergrad years, I was often asked, “Well what do YOU believe?” I still tell people – I have faith in chaos. The universe is remarkably ordered but with that, there is rupture and destruction. I remain grateful that my life and my mind have remained mostly ordered, manageable, and ultimately, hopeful. My work in the world is to help create order and hope for others. I attempt this through my non-profit, RootDown LA, and now through my therapy work.