Presence with a Purpose

I wanted clarity. The gray-haired man at the podium was supposed to provide us with it. I didn’t know about us. He should help me think clearly. How could he do that? He spoke for a few minutes and my imagination started to startle me. I imagined standing up, running out of the auditorium, hurrying to the airport in a taxi, and leaving Manhattan as suddenly as I’d decided to fly here a few weeks ago. The speaker was familiar to psychoanalytic audiences in New York. He wasn’t much older than me. His professional background couldn’t have been more different than mine. He was both a professor in neuropsychology and a psychoanalyst and he traveled across the world to Manhattan once a month. For reasons that remained unclear to me, I’d flown across the country to hear him lecture at the National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis. Tonight was supposed to be the highlight of my trip. Tomorrow I would walk through Central Park. Images and words and then sentences in my mind returned me to the auditorium and to the tall man at the podium, who looked older than he was. Why had my imagination startled me? An answer came from somewhere inside of me while the speaker paused for a moment: I’d become angry or envious or both without realizing it. From the moment he started speaking I’d imagined talking with him over a coffee or a beer. There was passionate honesty in his words. He said that he’d thought a lot about what he might say tonight before deciding on what he would say. I welcomed these words. I wished I could handle uncertainty in such a creative way. Perhaps what I’ve written here, or what my narrator has written, has been my own creative way to discover what’s happening in my mind. Clarity has been more present in my mind than I’d thought.

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