The therapy generation

therapy

I’VE DONE THERAPY, and I’m not a fan.

The people who get into that line of work, in my opinion, are troubled people, which is why they get into it in the first place. Their true motivation is understanding themselves, not others, but you can make a living at it, so many do. Kill two birds.

Win, win. Endless fixation on one’s self while having others pay you to fix them too. If only you could. Most men are not inclined to therapy. It’s primarily a female thing which folds nicely into their endless talking and reading self-help books.

Men who submit to therapy, I believe, are usually coerced into it by a woman, or they are questionable fellows like Woody Allen. I was in the first category. Maybe the second too.

The therapists to whom I refer are not psychiatrists. I’m talking about psychologists and other lesser lights with therapy “training.” There are lots of options available. Psychiatrists are just physicians who want those big doctor bucks but who faint at the sight of blood.

My sister is a therapist. My first wife is a therapist. My daughter was a therapist until she married very well and became a woman of leisure. The man who picked up my pieces and put me back together in the late 1990s, when I was a basket case, was a therapist, a psychologist.

But his tools were entheogens, not the endless chatter of usual therapy.

I was first hauled into traditional therapy in 1994. My second wife was the hauler. The therapist was a woman, a scandalously expensive marriage counselor in the Galleria area of Houston. Her suite had multiple rooms. At first we sat on a white leather sofa, my seething wife and I.

Basically, it was a gang-bang, and I got hosed, strapped naked atop a grimy mattress on the floor of a dank, stinky basement. The gang-bangers were, of course, the therapist and my wife.

They had their way with me, over and over, and they didn’t even use protection.

My last clear memory of the final session was this: We went into another room of the suite where there were various instruments of torture, or perhaps they were just therapy aids. The shrink had me lie on my back atop a huge inflated ball, basically bending me backwards, which was uncomfortable.

She leaned over me, looked right into my face and asked (I am not making this up): How old are you now?  I’m 50, I accurately responded, but I don’t think that’s what she wanted to hear.

In the parking lot, I vowed not to return, so my wife tossed me out in the cold shortly thereafter.

I do think that in some cases, what I call chatter therapy can do some good, mostly in relationships. Sometimes, but even then I have my doubts. When deeper issues are involved, things buried far below the surface of the psyche, the troubled soul, you can talk till your jaw falls off, and it will have done nothing of use. Our deepest conflicts care naught for conversation.

artAt best, those devilish conflicts might be excavated with some sticks of dynamite. Entheogens can be sticks of dynamite when administered with care.

Therapy as we know it started in the 20th century. There were therapists long before, of course, and they were called priests, ministers, pastors and shamans.

I prefer the old ways of therapy.

A shaman would never have bent me over a big, inflated ball and asked how old I was.

He would already have known. The jungle would  have told him.

Writing stuff and mango snowballs

masks

I STARTED THIS website in mid-2011 with the intention of writing stuff. It replaced the six-year-old Zapata Tales, which was also written stuff, but that stuff was mostly about my living in Mexico, a topic that had begun to bore me, so I was branching out.

I’m good at writing stuff, far better than average. But I’ve never taken a class on it. I’ve never attended workshops. I don’t worry about themes and structure, nor am I interested in the slightest in trading tips with other “writers.” I fly entirely solo.

When I do write stuff, I just wing it. I prefer fiction, but there have been periods in my life that were so wacky that they’ve provided real-life material. A couple of examples of that are Victoria and the cowboy and Swimming with the fishes. Yes, I’m plugging myself, drumming up traffic.

The fiction that I’ve written in recent years now rests on my other website The Pearls of Zapata. I have some favorites. More plugs: The broken staircase, which I’m particularly fond of, The old wolf, and then there are the relatively brief Waco spaceman and the demented Sunny side up.

Some things never landed on The Pearls of Zapata. Instead they got their own websites. There are links in the right-side column. Two are jungle-themed. I think strange things tend to happen in the jungle because it’s hot there, and people go wild in heat.

One is Dark girl in the blue dress and the other is Last night of the iguana.

For many years I’ve wanted to go deep into the jungle, perhaps in Ecuador, and eat ayuhuasca while lying naked, but I never did and cannot imagine that I will now since I’ve gotten rather long in the tooth. Some things are best done when young.

* * * *

My father was a writer, a very good one. He and I shared many traits. He was a newspaper editor, as was I. He retired early, as did I. He was a rather serious dude, as I have become. He drank too much for a long time, as did I. He quit in his mid-50s, as did I. He spent his post-work years writing poetry, settling at last into haiku, where he became quite well known.

He was a life-long left-winger. I am a right-winger. He had no adventuresome spirit while I have lots. His politics were shaped by the Great Depression and witnessing — as a newspaper reporter in the late 1930s — violent, machine-gun-involving, union-busting by fat-cat corporate types.

mugThe 1930s made him while the 1960s, to a lesser degree, made me. The 1930s were miserable times and, looking back, so were the 1960s because they created the self-absorbed, clueless American culture we now see spiraling down the drain hole.

My father died of a heart attack at 75. I am 70, but I feel real good.

How did we wander off to my father? Oh, yes, I like to write, and so did he. Plus, I confessed up top that I never studied structure nor attended writing workshops that might have focused me better. My father did attend workshops and studied structure. Haiku is very structured.

Some time last year, I stopped writing fiction. It was unintentional. The muse deserted me. Perhaps it had something to do with age. Maybe the little gray cells are drying up. I wonder if it’s permanent. Concurrently, I notice that living in a foreign country has ceased to amaze me.

But I still like it very, very much.

We’re going to the Pacific coast tomorrow for a few days. It will be very hot. Perhaps I’ll find some ayahuasca, but I doubt it. I’ll stick to mango snowballs and fried shrimp.

* * * *

(Photo notes: The mugshot is my father though it could almost be me. And what does the photo up top have to do with the post? Nothing at all. Those masks hang in the Hacienda hallway.)

Getting arty

WomanONE OF OUR favorite local artists, a man named Cordero, often sells his work Sundays in the main plaza downtown. We bought this piece yesterday, and I like it very much, the style, the colors, the theme.

It’s a woman indigenous to this area with the clothes they wear. Note the pleated skirt, a dead giveaway of her people.

She’s holding a collection of clay figures, the type often seen in these parts. The themes are wonderful, from demons to devils to old men sitting atop wagons or school buses.

The piece is leaning against a painted table in our living room, so you get an idea of its considerable size.

 

 

street

 

The woman is painted on wood. Cordero doesn’t seem too interested in canvas. Sometimes he paints watercolors, and the style is quite different. We have one of his watercolors, a local street scene, on paper hanging in the bedroom. That’s it to the left.

We’ll be dropping off the work at the top at a frame shop this afternoon. Getting things framed here costs a tiny fraction of what frame shops charge above the Rio Bravo.

It’s just one of millions of reasons why living in Mexico is superior to living in the United States these days, but let’s not rub that in right now.

We have two other works of Cordero, both painted on wood, in the Hacienda. One is a beautifully exotic rendition of a pink datura flower and its leaves. The other is a green jungle scene with two stone masks, the face of one is Cordero himself.

In Mexico, you don’t have to be a millionaire to buy original artwork. Being a cheapskate, I like that.