Almost every day, something happens that stops me dead in my tracks. A reality check. Something unexpected. Ranging in severity. Causing an about-face. And now, more than ever, external events are bombarding all of us from every direction. Reality checks – 24/7. I have experienced reality checks since I was two-years-old. At least, that is the first one that I can remember. I had a pink blanket with white reindeer that I loved. It went with me everywhere. It was my friend. At the age of two, or three, Mother and Daddy decided the blanket had to go. It disappeared. Suddenly. Without warning. I frantically looked for it. Mother said it was gone. I was too old for a blanket. They burned it. Ouch. Loss of blanket. Loss of friend. Loss of trust. Loss and pain. Reality Check.
After that, I had reality check after reality check. In high school. In college. External events that came out of nowhere. So, internally, I created safe spots inside my head. If I heard something or saw something I did not like, or if something painful happened, I went to a safe spot. One favorite spot was a room, a library, in a brick house on the edge of the woods. The walls were covered with books in built-in bookcases. An armchair and footstool were in front of a warm fire. My Steinway piano was there. And, my cat. I was safe. I also had a secret garden, filled with roses. Externally, I was rolling with the punches, determined to keep going despite road blocks. Internally, I found a way to feel safe from people who were saying one thing while doing another. Safe spots.
It bothered me. Why aren’t people telling the truth? Calling it like they see it? Were non-truths more acceptable? I studied Carl Jung and his analytical psychology. I worked with renown therapists. I went to psychics and studied metaphysics. I attended the Erhard Seminars Training, known as “EST”, saying “got it” a lot. I found respite in acting. There, it was necessary to separate the obvious – let’s call it “truth” or “facts” of what happens – from what the character intends – called it “subtext”. Sometimes I was successful; sometimes not. Once, I was doing a scene from “Lunchtime” with Mary Grover for Lee Strasberg at The Actors Studio. Mary and I were both excited to be performing for Lee. After the scene, Lee asked me what was my character doing in the scene. I went into some convoluted explanation, trying to explain what the character was thinking and feeling. He asked me the same question several times, not satisfied with my answers. At some point, he stopped me, looked at me in disgust, and yelled – She is COOKING THE TURKEY!!!”. Cook the damn turkey. Reality Check.
At that point, it became clear that I was over-analyzing too much. Sigmund Freud, who was famous for interpreting symbols with special emphasis on the imagery in dreams, said, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” Now, this may not seem like much to you, but to me, that was the beginning of my law career. That is when I made the decision to spend my life learning the importance of facts and what to do with them. In law school, the fact pattern was essential. In law practice, the fact pattern determined the possible arguments. In client consultations, the fact pattern was the client’s reality check. Priceless.
Early in my law practice, I found a safe spot – walking mornings, photographing roses, and posting them on social media. That made me happy. Helped me cope with reality checks. Google defines “reality check” as an occasion on which one is reminded of the state of things in the real world. Urban dictionary says “reality check” is used to bring a person back into the life of those around them, sometimes used to smash hopes and dreams. Merriam Webster defines “reality check” as something which shows you that the real situation is different from what you believed or hoped. People around the globe are experiencing reality checks 24/7. In my world, that calls for safe spots. Roses on social media. Just know – if this helps you, it is helping me more. Safe Spots.
Please excuse the rambling. Just thinking out loud.