Breaths One Moment at a Time

The paperback I held in my hands wasn’t what I thought I’d bought online. It arrived in my life at an interesting psychological moment. I was two weeks away from experiencing one of the most intensive forms of psychotherapy: four times a week psychoanalysis. Five times a week seemed too much even in my dreams. I’m writing these sentences a day or two after I first sat down with the two hundred fifty page account of a novelist’s experience in psychoanalysis. I was already on the couch three times a week. Reading is a significant part of my daily life, and I tend to spend more than less time with each page. My experience with this paperback in the last twenty-four or forty-eight hours has been different: I reached page one hundred in what felt like less than an hour. Strong coffee helped. More than caffeine, though, the familiarity of the experience of speaking or remaining silent on the couch kept me turning pages. The author’s experience was my own. It was also what the narrator of the novel I’d started writing was experiencing. He’s a novelist too. There must be fiction in these lines that I wrote an hour or so before my first of three sessions this week. Maybe I could read some more pages of the paperback. The author was on the couch for six years, and when I read what was the total cost of those six years of sessions, more than a thousand hours of forty-five minute sessions, I feared I was about to have a panic attack. A doubt about the author’s first-hand account came to mind: was it what really happened, or was the novelist in him unable to avoid creating fiction? This question remained unanswered in my mind more minutes than I realized, and suddenly I became aware that I would have to hurry to make it to my psychoanalyst’s office on time. Something in me wasn’t ready to leave home. There was time for maybe ten minutes of meditation. I hadn’t meditated in a while, and I wondered why I wanted to do so now. But I didn’t have time to think, which might have been why I preferred to focus on my breaths. Fifteen or twenty minutes later I was on the sidewalk, on my way to a familiar room. Life seems to be about experiencing moments. Perhaps one of my goals in life is to learn more about the kinds of experiences I want to have.

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