Today was a day like most others. Here was my morning:
- sixty-five degrees as I passed the time-and-temperature display at the bank;
- a short line at the coffee shop;
- the soundtrack from “Bunny Lake Is Missing” looping in my head;
- all on the way to a session with Dr Bob.
Each of these is pretty ordinary, except this would be the last session with my therapist.
Dr Bob has retired. I sensed the tunnel-at-the-end-of-the-light long before he announced it; nothing this fruitful could last forever. So I entered “the sanctum” curious, even eager to see how four years of our shared experience would play itself out. I hoped for a custom parting gift: A cross-stitch sampler of personalized aphorisms to hang beside the bathroom mirror; a morning reminder of the psychological potholes and self-generated booby traps that litter my day. But your sand traps will differ from mine. At one point during the session, he asked how I felt. The answer was simply: wistful.
It’s finally time to cope with those pesky “Age & Stage” issues I’d heard about fifteen years ago from an earlier therapist. The problem then was projection: that psychologist was nearer retirement than I was—than I am—and he tried unsuccessfully to cast my problems as the very issues that must have been consuming him. Coincidentally, the clinic he worked for phased its psychology unit out and he took a job at a local ambulance-chasing facility that has always scared the crap out of me.
Now—fifteen years later—I’m seventy and almost ready to think about the next stage of life, with more sand in the bottom of the hourglass than the top. As an inveterate story-teller, I’ve spent a large part of my eternal present talking about the past. Hang out with Ramsay and that’s what you get—once upon a time. But these days I’m more sanguine about it. Indeed, I am actually wistful about my own past; about souring relationships and the what-might-have-been-ness of realizing there’s too little time to bring even half my current projects to completion. Wistful.
If you want to hear concentrated wistfulness, watch the 1965 Otto Preminger film “Bunny Lake Is Missing.” Call me. We can share a weep.