In My Head

29 Nov

i was talking to Drew, Ms. Constance’s slave, at the munch Sunday night.  He was telling me about some of the woodworking jobs he’s doing right now.  

One of them is a spar for a boat.  So he’s talking about masts and booms and all kinds of nautical terms that sound fascinating and mysterious.  

i get this mental image of Drew creating form and substance, something like this:

and then i picture him finishing it, sanding and polishing, and fitting it into place, and it seems so solid.  So concrete and real.   Like baking bread, or making quilts.

It makes me realize how abstract and un-hands-on most of the things i do are.  Even my writing isn’t done with pen and paper, but through a machine that saves the words in cyberspace, where they could totally disappear one day, without warning, rhyme or reason.

The work i do doesn’t yield anything tangible.  

i’m not saying it’s not valuable.  i know it is.  My clients value it.  But i work in relationship, which can’t be seen or touched and is open to being redefined at any moment.

Yes, it’s real, i know it is, but there is very little that’s grounded there.  And it’s very subjective.  Open to changing interpretation.

i remember learning:  “The best predictor of lasting change from therapy is if the person, the client, attributes the changes they’ve made to themselves.  If they say, “Well, that counselor didn’t really have to do anything, I just needed someone to talk to,” they are more likely to maintain whatever progress they made.”

And i’ve always loved that ~ the idea that if i’ve done a really good job, the client won’t even know i did anything.  Like magic.

But ~ in a world of outcome measures, i don’t know where that idea fits in.  In a world of objective and measurable goals and expectations of progress from one session to the next, what does that even mean?

Besides, it’s some old research and i don’t know if it’s held up.  i could be believing that all these years, and it might not even be true at all.

Twenty years from now, Drew’s spar will still be a spar.  No one will be saying, “Well, we thought it was a spar, but as it turns out, that was an error in the data.”

Sigh.  i don’t know.

The other point is that what i do is disembodied.  There’s little connectedness between my body and my work.  

Thomas More, the psychologist, talks about this, how the modern era separates us from our physical self, traps us in the abstract.

Drew’s work, on the other hand, feels very grounded to me.  Very real.  Secure and solid.

i was talking to my friend jade about this yesterday morning.  She says:

You know, the idea of wood working as a meditative concept makes sense to me.
But…here is a thought.  Perhaps the concrete is less real than the abstract.
Thoughts are things. Real things.  And that is what you work with every day.
The energy from your mind is just as real as the piece of wood Drew works with.
This may sound New Age-y but it’s based comfortable in science. 
i think it’s the 3rd Law but i could be off since i’m on my first cup of coffee.

And she may be right ~ well, i don’t know about this 3rd Law stuff, but maybe she’s right.  But ~ but ~ but ~

~ there’s some elusive point here that i can’t quite grab.   

Maybe i’m just feeling a little lost in my own head.  Changes coming at work, changes at church, changes in my family.  Trying to wrap my mind around what they all mean.

Flying in subspace, sliding down into sub-drop, all unseen.  

i don’t know.  Maybe i’m rambling again.

But i was feeling all this last night, and i emailed Sir a little of it.  He emailed me back pretty quickly.  He said ~

o, wait, i need to tell you this first.  He emailed me the other day to tell me He’d come across this:

and that He thought with a little work it would make an awesome bondage bench.

So when i emailed Him last night, He responded quickly, not with a lot of words or ideas.  Partly, He said:

“I’m looking at this table/bench thing I have in my dining area, planning on how to finish it out, deciding where to put tie points, and what kind, and I imagine your body lying across it in various configurations and imagine where the tie points need to be for different postures.” 
And i could feel it, my body stretched taut, bound securely….   Mmmmmm.  
That was exactly what i needed to hear.

17 Responses to “In My Head”

  1. greengirl November 29, 2011 at 7:30 am #

    My thought after reading this was that so many professions are this way – people impact other people’s lives, but not in a physical product kind of way, but the impact is profound, i think more profound. That led to the idea of “service professions,” which of course led to the idea of service – as in service submission. The most profound and important things we do for each other are not physical at all.

    • aisha November 29, 2011 at 7:53 am #

      Dear Gg,

      Yes. Of course you’re right ~ and it reminds me of Raven Kaldera, {of the Path of Service and Mastery.} When i told him i’m a therapist, he said, “So you’re already on the Path of Service.”

      So yes. AND ~

      for me today there is still this odd disconnect, this sense of not being planted in my body, on the earth…. weird


  2. Striving for Peace November 29, 2011 at 7:51 am #

    Hmm (sorry — this is going to be long)

    It does seem that in work that is more intangible — there’s never a way to say “that’s finished” — as there is when one creates something tangible.

    But perhaps there is another way to view this

    When drew finishes his work — it’s concrete — it’s done — and he must live with every choice. He may wish he had chosen a different type of wood — or a different finish.

    He may wish that he had spent more time creating a particular curve — or had routed it differently.

    But it is done.

    I have the same issue with my paintings. Yes — I create something tangible. But I am often dissatisfied with the work as much as I am satisfied with it. I regret some choices.

    But when working with the tangible. You must at some point

    Declare it to be finished.

    to be imperfect

    to be “good enough”

    and to find pride in your imperfect work.

    in the intangible….you must be satisfied with progress…..but…you always have the hope
    of making more progress

    of evolving

    yes — it’s sad to not have the “I’m finished” moment
    but you also have the joy — of continual opportunity.


    • aisha November 29, 2011 at 7:57 am #


      O, nice. Yes, ok, that works, doesn’t it?

      And probably – what you said in your post – i need to shut down my cyberworld more often and connect with other things. Wood and brick and so on…

      And get tied up. I’m sure that will help! {grinning…}

      And i should quit reading comments and finish getting ready for work.



  3. vanillamom November 29, 2011 at 8:14 am #

    i grokk what you say here, but let me add this….teachers (and since i teach my kids, i also include me here) often teach in a vacuum.

    There may be some interaction (and with me, depends on which kid it is)…or not. And at the end of the day, i’m left scratching my head going…”did this even matter?”

    (uh oh, another blogpost here…)

    a lifetime ago, when i was a young thing, (lol)…i worked for a church, in a leadership position. During one service, i lead a meditation that i created on the spot…i was very into visualized meditation in those days…

    and those words went out to the congregants. And i forgot about it. Coz yanno, you never know what they hear, if you touched, concretely, anyone.

    Very recently i talked to someone on facebook. He was a student minister at our church then. He and i had a ….well, lets say, when i evaluate someone, as a team leader, it is only fair if it is honest. So i was. And it hurt him. And i felt bad about it.

    So, all these years later, i apologized to him for the hurting part.

    He responded that he didn’t recall the eval at all….what he most remembered about me was this guided meditation that i had led, it had stuck with him these last 25 years, and it was something he used whenever his life got particularly stressful.

    Sometimes, aisha, we are lucky enough to get that message, that we’ve done something “concrete” for people.

    Mostly, tho? We don’t. Especially in the career you have.

    That’s why there is faith, i think. And hugs. *smiling*

    Big Hug.

    and hey, i’ll take a portion of that sub-drop soup….



    • aisha November 29, 2011 at 7:55 pm #

      Hey, ‘Nilla,

      Thanks for the support – I appreciate it for sure! And I love the stories… and know you’re right.

      Honest, i wasn’t just looking for affirmation… sigh… i don’t know what i’m looking for. But it’s ok.

      And i love you for all the support you offer!



  4. Sky November 29, 2011 at 10:29 am #

    Aisha – I admire the work you do helping others.

    I quilt and bake and create lots of different “crafts.” There’s a beginning, middle and end. Work started and finished. I’m usually critical of my finished product – not good enough, could have done this differently, whatever it is.

    The amazing work you do – helping others – professionally and personally – volunteering and as part of your job – all of that work is important. Right now, you might not feel like you make a difference, or have anything to “show” for all of your efforts, but the changes

    and growth you are affecting in other peoples lives might not be able to be measured TODAY, right now, but those changes will extend far beyond and longer and in different ways than something tangible.

    What seems small to you, may not be that way to your patient/client. (take Nillas example for instance regarding her guided meditation!)

    I hope you feel more “yourself” soon 🙂

    Take care, Sky

    • aisha November 29, 2011 at 7:57 pm #

      Thanks, Sky, I really appreciate it.

      Yes, I know you’re right too, i mean, I know there are people who are helped by me, it’s not that…

      Nope, can’t explain it, but deeply appreciate the kind words…



  5. perfectlips November 29, 2011 at 5:36 pm #

    You still get the closure from abstract work, no? (my work is very abstract). You don’t get the sensual feedback that you get from more concrete work (the feel of the wood; the dough pushing back against your hand; etc). It doesn’t sound like yore short of sensual feedback.

    • perfectlips November 29, 2011 at 5:39 pm #

      p.s. (a) sorry about horrid typo; (b) love your new avatar. Can’t work out what you’re doing.

      • aisha November 29, 2011 at 8:01 pm #

        @PL – No problem on the typo, and thanks – i’m putting my shoes on. Had to crop the picture… 🙂 aisha

    • aisha November 29, 2011 at 8:00 pm #


      Yes, it’s not exactly about closure ~ and clearly, i can’t explain what it is, not today anyhow. And – laughing – no, i’m not short on sensual feedback these days!!


  6. Jz November 29, 2011 at 6:05 pm #

    Leaving the lofty philosophical thoughts to others, I’ll just say…

    You want hands-on work?
    I need help re-mortaring my leaking stone foundation.
    You could certainly rest assured that for years afterward, I’d be looking at something concrete (ha!) and thinking grateful thoughts of you…

    no, huh?
    well, I tried. ;-p

    • aisha November 29, 2011 at 8:02 pm #


      LOL – thanks!! You are too good to me!!

      Ok, um, maybe not…

      still laughing…. i sure appreciate the offer though!


  7. Mick November 29, 2011 at 9:47 pm #

    grokkk? Now that’s a word I’ve not heard in a while. In my business I just seem to use up a lot of paper, which (hopefully) at least gets recycled.


  8. acquiexence December 2, 2011 at 7:17 am #

    “i remember learning: ”The best predictor of lasting change from therapy is if the person, the client, attributes the changes they’ve made to themselves. If they say, “Well, that counselor didn’t really have to do anything, I just needed someone to talk to,” they are more likely to maintain whatever progress they made.”

    And i’ve always loved that ~ the idea that if i’ve done a really good job, the client won’t even know i did anything. Like magic.

    But ~ in a world of outcome measures, i don’t know where that idea fits in. In a world of objective and measurable goals and expectations of progress from one session to the next, what does that even mean?”


    I’m not sure I’d agree with that. I’ve been to counsellors before, and I would say that, sure, the best ones didn’t handhold me into change. But what they DID do, and what I would never attribute to myself, was point me in the right direction to ask the questions I needed to. Those who spoonfed me answers invariably helped me much less than those who helped me to reassess what I already knew, and start finding out what I didn’t.

    So, I wouldn’t say that aiming to be dismissed is a good thing to do. *laughs* I know what you’re trying to say, but at the same time, there’s a flipside danger to the client thinking that they’ve done it all themselves. Because admitting that we needed help is admitting that we had weaknesses, and that’s important for any kind of growth in the future. If people think they should be able to do it all themselves — with just some chitchat to vent — they might very well find themselves up against another brick wall with no way to deal with what’s happening.

    • aisha December 3, 2011 at 5:21 am #


      Thanks for this comment – excellent point, and of course you’re right. As i a long time therapy client myself, i know what you’re saying! So thank for helping me remember to shift my perspective.

      And yeah, sigh… asking for help is one of the hardest things we do



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