I went to therapy today. I have a tendency to rattle off hypotheses about my shit while there in the hopes that at some point the guy will either confirm or refute them based on his years of experience. But that never really happens. You go there hoping for wise old Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting, but instead you get someone who’s primarily quiet and looks like your worst dressed, nerdiest co-worker on Casual Friday.
What he does do, however, is he constantly tries to counter hyper-negativity with an alternative perspective. For example, I talked today about how I thought the experience of going to the wedding in Portland was a test (going somewhere alone and being surrounded by and having to socialize with people I mostly didn’t know). And I failed that test tremendously because I was a fucking nervous wreck the entire time.
So he says, “Well that’s just one opinion. I could say to you that just going there with the knowledge that you wouldn’t know a lot of people was tremendously courageous.”
And I said, “You could say that. And maybe you even mean it. But I certainly don’t believe you or feel that way.” I suppose that was pretty dickish, but it’s supposed to be an honest environment.
Anyway, I figured that was that. Nothing gained from that exchange. But now I’m thinking that perhaps the goal is not to have an obvious verbal breakthrough, but merely to implant that positive counter-thought into the way I process shit.
Case in point: I was telling him how I was worried that I’m Daniel Johnston (I’m always making loose musician and athlete comps in my head, only because I like music and I like sports- not because I think their lives and mine are comparable). Anyway, the point was that maybe I’ll just end up getting worse as I age and have to end up increasingly reliant on family versus becoming more independent. He didn’t know who Daniel Johnston was, so the thought was a bit lost.
But then tonight I had this thought:
In doing some quick math, John Darnielle was born in ‘67 and Tallahassee came out in 2002, so that would mean he was probably writing those songs when he was about 34-35. And I know the subjects aren’t autobiographical, but I like knowing that he was older than me when he was having these dark, dark thoughts (referencing the lyrics from the album and the song above). So if I’m going to project an unreasonable floor on myself (Johnston), I suppose it’s only fair to project a concurrently unreasonable ceiling (Darnielle). At least that provides the head space to quietly and contentedly fall somewhere in the reasonable middle.
It’s not much, but maybe that’s the invisible hand of therapy at work- incrementally altering thought patterns enough to eventually turn a corner and get to an okay place.
Or maybe that’s thorough and complete bullshit. Maybe believing the right bullshit is what gets you through. I don’t know. This song is fucking great though.
Update: I shouldn’t think of Daniel Johnston as a “floor.” He’s very talented and wrote tons of great songs and he still plays shows and what not. It’s just that the whole needing to be taken care of in your 50’s because you’re severely mentally ill thing is horrifying. But I love him. He’s not a “floor.” If he’s that then I’m a basement right now.