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Monday, September 16, 2013

Flashback Monday & Tuesday: Life's Festival Goes On Rain or Shine With No Refunds for Unused Tickets

Thought for the Day: I have a very busy week & decided to repost this post for both Monday and Tuesday this week. I wrote it last September. Sometimes it's a good idea to look back & reflect. This post is well worth paying attention to more than once a year. Here's what I wrote back then:
 On Friday night I went to services. I do not go on a regular basis, but it was Yom Kippur, The Day of Atonement, which is the holiest day of the year for Jewish people. Originally, our plan was to go to services in Boston, but plans changed. Jerry, my partner, has been swamped in a new position in school. He was too tired to travel & we would have missed the Friday night service anyway. When a friend called & was planning to go in White Plains with her daughter, son-in-law & 4 month old grand son, I decided to join them. They were going to a service at Beit Am Shalom, a reconstructionist synagogue, which holds their services in a huge tent beside their building. They do not require tickets & only ask for a donation. They do not want anyone to avoid participation due to the high cost of membership. The service was beautiful. The music was both traditional & creative. The Rabbi & his wife, who is the Cantor (musical leader), add beautiful harmonies to the prayers. The entire congregation joined in. It was both welcoming & inspiring.

The service was a bit too long for our youngest group member. Therefore, unfortunately, I missed everything but the introduction to the sermon. The Rabbi spoke about being at a music festival at the end of the summer. The words on the ticket resonated with him in relation to the Day of Atonement. The tickets said that the gates to the venue would be open from 10 AM till 10 PM, that the concert would be held, Rain or Shine & there would be no refunds. He repeated those phrases a few times before I had to leave. The parallel to life, however, seemed fairly clear to me. We all get one ticket to the festival. The show goes on rain or shine for a limited time. The only difference is that we only know when the event gates open. No one knows the exact time that the gates will close on our lives. We can't get a refund or a second chance in life as far as we know.

     I don't know where the Rabbi took this message, but yesterday, while answering questions on HealthTap a few of the questions & answers I gave took on a different meaning when seen through the metaphor of life as a summer music festival. 
     A 27 year-old male on HealthTap asked:
        " I am anxious to the point I can't even leave my couch for more than daily needs. I'm so scared  about my health .1mg xanax won't even work?"
Read on to see how I answered him and two others who may be missing out on the festival of life;..

I responded that: "It is important for you to get help. Look for a therapist who practices cognitive behavioral therapy. Your health cannot be improved by staying on your couch. Exercise is an important part of staying healthy. Don't let your anxiety control your life. Face your fears & they will have less control over you."

The young man thanked me for my quick response, but I felt that 400 characters (the limit for HealthTap answers), was not enough. If we only get one ticket to the festival of life which goes on rain or shine with no refunds, this young man is wasting his seat & missing the concert, sitting it out on the couch at home.

Then I answered another question from a 39 year-old who said:
          "I feel nobody loves me since my parents died." 

The question touched me to the heart. I responded that :
        "Parental love is uniquely special. It is hard to lose both parents at any age. If you were lucky enough to feel loved by your parents, their love is still with you (not exactly the same, but it does not die). You may need some help in therapy to work through your grief so that you can open up to others & feel loved again. Your parents would want you to feel loved & to have a full, happy life with love in it."
      Life goes on rain or shine. There are no refunds. Is this 39 year old letting grief keep them outside the concert for fear of rain or that no one will love them like their parents?
     The questions keep coming on HealthTap. Here's one more heart breaking question that a 25 year-old female asked:
      "In order for talk therapy to work one has to talk-but what if patient is so disgusted by what happened that cannot even get words out?"
        As a therapist who has worked with victims of abuse & holocaust survivors, I know all too well that some things are very hard to talk about, especially when you do not know the therapist. I responded that, "Sometimes it takes a while before the words can come out, even in talk therapy. Your therapist will be patient & help you find the words. If it is so terrible, they will understand your need to take time & even sit in silence with you for as long as it takes to trust them with the terrible issues you are trying to overcome. Be strong & go even if you don't have the words yet." 

No matter how terrible the rain storm you are experiencing, you deserve to take advantage of your ticket to the festival of life & find a way to live it to the fullest. If you are afraid or need help, reach out & ask for help. We do not know when the gates will close. Find a way to enter the arena & enjoy the music & the sunshine. You can lessen the impact of the showers by connecting with others.

Feel free to ask me questions here or on HealthTap. Thousands of doctors are listening & want to help people take advantage of their ticket to the amazing festival of life filled with joy, sorrow, challenges & opportunities.


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