Lying Our Way To The Truth

Now, I was having coffee with my friend, famous architect Jonathon Stembridge-Rickenbacker.  Jon was a little upset, because his daughter had spontaneously left a university career behind when she was very close to becoming a pediatrician.

“She wants to be an artist,” said Jon.

I sipped on my delicious latte from Caffe Artigiano, which, if you don’t know, makes the best lattes in all of Vancouver and probably North America.  Well, definitely better than Europe as well, and I’m guessing most of Africa isn’t known for lattes.  Probably trumps Asia and South America, too.  The only one I’m not sure about is Australia, because Australians have a way of surprising you.  Oh, and Antarctica is uninhabitable, but if there was a Caffe Artigiano there, everyone would go.

I put my latte back on its saucer.  “What kind of artist does she want to be?” I asked.

He shook his head.  “That’s just it, Dr. Matt.  She doesn’t even know.  When she talked about it, what she talked about was the life of an artist: being free, hanging out in artist communities, traveling to art shows, stuff like that.”

“It sounds to me like she’s living in a fantasy of what an artist’s life is like,” I said.

“Yes!  That’s it exactly!” said Jon, exasperated.  “It is a fantasy.  And she gave up a career in pediatrics, which she’s wanted for a long time.  She’s always talked so passionately about it.”  He sighed.  “What do I do?”

“Jon, first, you need to get to reality,” I said.  “People don’t always choose what’s best for themselves. That’s the reality.  You have to allow your daughter to make mistakes.  We all make them, and that’s one tool we use to learn.  After all, you’re making a mistake right now.”

Jon was startled.  “How am I making a mistake?” he asked.

“Your mistake, Jon, is that because you can so clearly see her choice to live in fantasy, you think you know what her choice should have been.  You think she should have chosen to remain at school.”

He frowned.  “But… It’s what she wanted.  I never pressured her to go into that field.”

“Just because you never pressured her does not mean that she did not feel pressured, and sometimes we put that pressure on ourselves.”  I took another sip of my delicious latte, then continued.  “The thing about fantasy is that we sometimes use it as a lie in order to find truth.”

Jon frowned even deeper.  “How is that even possible?” he said.

“It’s like this,” I said.  “Sometimes we have a desire that we don’t know how to express, or there’s something off in our lives that we have a sense of but don’t know how to adjust.  So, sometimes, we spin fantasy to give ourselves a reason to make a shift.  The fantasy and the reasons are false, but it gets us from point A to point B.”

“But… Dr. Matt, wouldn’t that mean that she would be avoiding the real issue?”

“Absolutely,” I said.  “More than that, once we’ve made the shift, now we’re living our own lie.  But sometimes the shift at least gets us to the right side of the line.  What I’m saying is, someone wouldn’t go to all that trouble if they didn’t have a real concern about entering a career in pediatrics.”

Jon sat back, thinking about this.  “Then, why not just talk about what the issue is?  I don’t care if she becomes a pediatrician.  Why not just say what’s bothering her about it and work it out?”

I shrugged.  “Sometimes, people don’t have the conscious awareness of the problem, or they don’t have the maturity to discuss it clearly.  But we can’t hand people awareness or maturity, and that’s your problem.  You’re stuck on trying to fix it.”

“I just don’t want to see her make a mistake and regret it later,” he said.

“Well, Jon,” I said.  “She may be making a mistake, and she may regret it later, but she may also be glad that she made the choice.  Fantasies have a way of revealing themselves, and that will fall away.  The hard part is making choices for ourselves.  And it’s possible that she’ll come back to pediatrics, if that’s an opportunity that she’s presented with again.  But it’s her life, and her choice, and you have to let go of it.”

An interesting thing happened at that point, folks.  I saw relief come over Jon’s face, as if he’d been waiting for someone to give him permission to let go.  He’d been holding on so tightly to controlling a choice that a great burden lifted off of him at that moment.

However, I wasn’t totally surprised, as I have that kind of effect on people.

Just My Thoughts,
Dr. Matt*

* Dr. Matt  is not a real doctor.

Dr. Matt

Dr. Matt* gives advice on relationships, life, death, half-life, pet ownership, sexuality, asexuality, proto-sexuality, and mustache growing. * Dr. Matt is not a real doctor.

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