My father is a surfer. Sometimes, when I was growing up, I wished that he was something else like a doctor or a teacher or a scientist or something – anything but a surfer. My father had a job as something else as I was growing up, but that job never really defined him. The job simply paid the bills. Surfing was his passion. Surfing was what he did. Surfing was who he was and surfing was what he tried to teach me. I realize now decades later that although my father failed to impart upon me the actual skill of surfing, he did pass to me the fundamental wisdom of that sport. Now as I struggle to navigate through life I realize that I never would have survived and flourished for so long had my father not taken the time to teach me how to surf. I may never have taken to surfing waves on the ocean, but I certainly ride waves through life. So this is my testament to the miracle of life, love, and forgiveness and all that lies between. I know that we have such works as the Bible and in that we purportedly have the word of God. I think that however we forget that similar themes play out time and time again within our own lives. I‟m referring to the powerful transformative force of love and how it can alter hate and anger be that alteration slow and arduous and long over time. So many people like to look to divinities to intervene and save them, and now thirty something years later, I realize that what is saving me is the crude but effective acts of love that my father demonstrated to me so many years ago. These are perhaps the only significant acts of love that he ever showed towards me in my entire life. At times my father has said that he loved me, but more often than not, my memories of my father are painful and uncomfortable – and well – frankly downright terrifying. I live with a certain dread and anxiety instilled by my father‟s actions that were not loving, and for so many years, all I could see, all I could think about was the wrong that was done and the hurt that I suffered. I hated and resented my father for so many years, so much that my subconscious anger and resentment threatened the love and relationship of the one person that I loved the most in the world, the love of my life that I had gone so far as to even make a proposal. It was at this point that I realized that my anger and my resentment had to be let go and as I let go – I was able to see all of the amazing things that my father had done for me. So here is the collection of surfing wisdom that I‟ve gained – wisdom that I‟ve relied upon to ride the ups and downs of my life, and while much of the time this wisdom may be only in my mind as a subconscious attitude, I now know that these truths have been with me for all of my life.
You Never Know Until You Go Back in the day – when I was very young – there was no Internet (imagine) and the weather report wasn‟t exactly a regular and dependable occurrence at five or six A.M. I noticed that my dad and his surfing buddies always had an attitude of “let‟s just go.” Of course they would pay attention to the weather and keep track of things like trade winds and tides, and so they did have some sense of the possibility of waves. However, fundamentally I noticed that when my dad and his friends wanted to go surfing they‟d debate for a bit, but by and large they‟d simply drive down to the beach and see the conditions, and of course, if there were waves they‟d surf – if not, well then such is life. The attitude that I learned to appreciate is a willingness to explore the unknown for something of interest. In other words, if I want to do something, I‟ve learned that I just need to go and do it. It‟s funny because I think that many people stereotype surfers as undisciplined and somewhat lazy. The truth is quite the opposite. Waking up at five or six AM for “dawn patrol” is anything but undisciplined. Driving down to the beach and making a thirty or sixty minute trip with the just the hope of waves- that‟s not lazy, and to do all of this week in and week out over and over again – that‟s disciplined and dedicated. To be honest I hated surfing, nonetheless the years spent accompanying my father taught me how to be dedicated to a passion. What my father modeled for me was pure passion, nothing more and nothing less. He would go to the beach almost every week and just surf, and as I grew older and moved forward in my own interests and hobbies – I‟ve applied that same drive. I‟d say that many people “stay home” and just let life and their dreams pass them by. Although, I constantly resented my father‟s early morning admonitions of “wake up!” his drive has carried with me to almost everything else that I do. I believe without a doubt that everything that I do, I constantly throw myself at it because I‟ve learned that once I‟m “woken up” and my gears are in motion, I may as well put everything into the effort. Otherwise, I might as well just stay at home, figuratively or literally. As I look backwards, I realize that I never want to stay home. My father definitely instilled a sense of wanderlust in me. I might have initially hated the early morning forays to the beach, but once I got a taste of adventure, I never wanted to go back and now I just want more and more. The worst possible fate I can imagine is to be stuck at home just sitting and looking out at the world passing me. And what an adventure it has been. I went to boarding school in high school, and after that I never really quite looked back. From Hawaii, I then traveled almost five thousand miles across the Pacific and across the continental U.S. to Amherst College, and when I was finished with college, I then went to Japan for three years. After that adventure, I came back to Hawaii for a year, applied to graduate school, and then moved back to the East Coast to work on a PhD in Psychology at Brown University. Somewhere during my second year of study, I grew tired of that adventure, and found myself more interested in
working for Whole Foods Market, and so I left Brown University and jumped ships for natural and organic foods. There are so many things that I‟ve tried along the way – I‟ve learned Japanese and Ancient Greek, and I‟ve also learned how to paint with oils, acrylics, water colors (in Western and the Chinese styles). I‟ve also studied and mastered ceramics both in the United States and in Japan. I‟ve tried a wide number of career options from scientist to teacher to human resources manager. Here, be it the crest or trough of the next wave, I see that my father‟s first lesson is still guiding me. I am constantly inquisitive and endlessly curious, and rather than simmer restlessly with that curiosity, I throw myself into the experience and learn as much as possible. Sometimes the experience is shocking, disappointing, unpleasant, and downright terrible – but never regrettable. In truth, I must say that in principal I don‟t really regret anything. How can I? To regret anything, would be to deny the fundamental experience of learning, and as much as I would like to avoid the discomfort and pain that I‟ve experience over the course of my life, I realize that even the most unpleasant experience are still contributing in a meaningful way to my total existence as a complete person. So it is that I continue to rush forward into uncertainty because I will never know until I go.
Watch the Waves One of the first things that my father always did upon arriving was to watch the incoming surf. He‟d sit in the car for awhile, or sometimes he‟d get out and sit on the beach, or maybe he‟d sit on a break wall or a rock. Most of the time he‟d just look out to see and watch the waves as they moved inward towards the shore. I liked this time because it was a slight respite before the dreaded „getting into the water” part of surfing. I never really liked getting into the water because it was almost always cold early in the morning, so of course, I liked sitting there on the beach and watching the waves. It‟s also very relaxing and almost hypnotic to watch waves move inland and break against the shore. With time I learned that my father was studying the waves and watching for patterns in the waves – seeing the direction that the waves were moving, whether the wind was affecting them or not, if the reef was influencing things – in short, figuring out what factors were in play. Even today, I have a hard time with this approach. It‟s easy for me to adopt an attitude of rush in and learn about a situation. It‟s not so easy for me to sit and watch the waves. However, I have learned time and time again that it‟s imperative for me to assess a situation before I step into it, and as such I‟m pretty obsessive about gaining information. Everyone likes to say knowledge is power. I disagree. Knowledge empowers you to make informed decisions that are powerful. You could have all the information in the world and still make poor decisions. You could also have access to all the information in the world and have such horrible insight that you don‟t really make much sense of the information at hand, and thus regardless of what information you do have, you‟re not going to make very good decisions. To me, and this comes from years of formal training in academic psychology -much of human life boils down to the attitudes that we have. The attitudes that we carry guide our actions and these actions in turn shape and influence our lives, and these resulting shapes and influences are what we associate as the quality of our lives – good or bad, happy or sad. What we tend to over look in our mad dash toward the perfect happy life is that attitudes are tiny things that essentially exist only in our minds. Attitudes are the easiest things in the world to change, and yet they are also the hardest. I think they are so difficult to change because so many of us are proud and stubborn, and our attitudes are often an important ingrained part of our constitution and character. We don‟t want to change our attitudes because we don‟t want to change who we are. Regardless, I know from experience that it is vitally important to have an attitude of observation. If I am not observant entering a situation then I will learn nothing, and if I learn nothing, then what was the point of the experience? To me life is an experiment, and I‟m constantly testing the world around me, trying this and trying that. Those early morning surfing sessions with my father taught me the value of stopping, pausing, and watching the incoming waves.
My life feels so much more complex than it was twenty something years ago – and yet – in many ways it‟s not that much more complex. I still get up in the morning and set out and confront and uncertain set of events. The beginning of each day is the same as the day before, I‟m assessing a course of action, and find that the best way to approach each day is to just lay in bed for about fifteen minutes and just mentally review my day. People talk about this often – psychologists, coaches, and athletes are just a few who focus on importance of visualization techniques. To me, the events of the day, and the events of each following day are simply like the waves progressing towards the shore. Just like my father sitting on the beach watching the waves before surfing, I find that it‟s very helpful to consider the future on a regular basis and anticipate and expect what may and may not occur. Of course that‟s somewhat paradoxical, because how do you anticipate the unexpected? In relative terms, you simply think about unusual or abnormal events, but that‟s a tangent. The point being, you can visualize both the near and distant future, and observe the immediate present, and in this process of visualization and observation, you enter into a state of mental readiness. I think this state of mental readiness is what my father and his surfing buddies were always seeking before they went out surfing. It always seemed to me that they were gearing themselves up from a state of being on land to a state of surfing and this process involved watching the waves and moving themselves mentally. I feel that this approach has served me well over time, and I feel that it will continue to serve me well. In fact, I think that constant observation and visualization is something that is very powerful and meaningful and rarely exercised in our frantic and hurried life. One thing that I find myself needing to do each day is slow down before acting and remember to watch the sit uation before entering. As I begin to embrace and celebrate the wisdom that I have gained from my father, I realize that there is so much that I could have been applying that I can apply to the better. As the saying goes, no use crying over spilt milk. I know that there have been many times that I have leaped before looking and I have certainly found myself wishing after the fact that I had spent a little more time looking. However, I‟m beginning to realize that this is all part of a mindset. I believe that by simply wanting to be more observant and more watchful, we become more observant and more watchful. As we train ourselves to see the little things and watch life around us, we begin to see the patterns in the events that are moving towards us and we can ride the waves better. This is my goal in life, as I actualize further towards my own greater potential – that just as my father was an excellent surfer – I too will be an excellent surfer of life. In each moment, of each day, I find that one of the most crucial steps is simply watching and being aware and attentive. Again, I believe the importance of this is because if you want to ride the waves well, you need to know where the waves are heading, where the reef is, where the biggest sets are breaking, and what the timing of the sets are. These are the more advanced lessons that took me a very long time to learn, and in the end it was the reef that really scared me and kept me from wanting to surf in water.
Know Where the Reef Is In surfing, the reef is probably the scariest thing. People probably see big waves and think, “Wow, big waves – scary!” However, what most people don‟t realize is that even gigantic waves won‟t really hurt you. At worst a really large wave will simply hold you under water. As long as you can hold your breath until you surface, you‟re really okay – well, as long as you can hold your breath and the wave doesn‟t strike you against something else. There‟s always the possibility that you might hit your board or another surfer…or the reef. In my mind, the reef is always the worse fate. One of my most vivid childhood memories is my father returning from a morning surfing with one of his legs gushing blood. He had hit the reef and the middle of his leg was gouged with long slashes as if a large cat had clawed him. That wasn‟t the first time that he had hit the reef – but I think that‟s the most vivid and horrible memory that I have. The reef is something that simply scared me. When you‟re standing on the shore – you can rarely or barely see the reef. If you can see the reef – it‟s usually barely apparent through the water – but it‟s probably the most consistent area that waves are breaking. The reef creates a shallow area in the water that breaks the waves, which is paradoxically desirable. I suppose in a sense, if it wasn‟t for the reef or shallow shorelines for waves to break upon, then there‟d be no waves to surf. However, whenever I found myself on a wave heading towards shore and I‟d be passing over the reef, I always found myself freezing in terror – less enjoying the ride and more terrified that I was going to wipe out over the reef and end up shredded like some kind of awful human hamburger. In other words, I never really managed to appreciate the reef – I just viewed it as this nightmarish obstacle between the shore and myself. To be honest I probably would have enjoyed surfing much more if I could have gotten myself mentally past the reef. I think that's where my father and I parted company so to speak. He was able to teach me how to surf, but he was never able to make me like surfing, for the simple reason that he was never able to get me to overcome my fear of the reef. Of course, that‟s probably because I never really told him how much the reef scared me – and oh did it scare me. Imagine moving very fast on a flat board, with a slight angle downward – and you feel that at any given moment you might slip off or slip forward. Imagine as well that as you‟re moving forward you‟re moving very rapidly over very sharp rocks and that the only thing separating you and these sharp rocks is a thin layer of water. That‟s what it‟s like to surf over a shallow reef. That‟s why I was so scared of the reef. That‟s not to say that all surfing is always like this. Sometimes my father would take me to surf spots where the reef wasn‟t so shallow, and sometimes I never really noticed the reef at all. However, in retrospect, it seems to me that often our surfing ventures seemed to involved spots with a shallow reef, and although I never personally wiped out on the reef – I did see first hand the potential awfulness of reef injury.
You could say that these early experiences really informed of the hidden dangers of any activity. It‟s weird to articulate this so late in life, but I swear that because I was so paranoid about the reef when surfing as a child, I‟ve developed an anticipatory approach to all activities. In essence, I look for the reef in everything. When I consider this approach, part of me thinks, “Hmm, that‟s very negative, maybe I should get therapy to stop being so paranoid about hidden dangers.” Then I remember, that one of the important things in surfing is knowing where the reef is. There‟s an important difference between recognizing and knowing where a danger is, and allowing that danger to overly influence and control you. For me, I think the fear of the reef overwhelmed me and I never managed to enjoy surfing because I was always afraid that I was going to hit the reef. Of course, if it wasn‟t the reef, I was then afraid that I was going to hit a rock or another surfer or my board or something – but that‟s another story. For life the same principals and approach hold true. I‟ve learned that being aware and anticipating dangers are incredibly important when leading a very turbulent life. This might seem like an obvious truism, but I‟d question why, if this is so obvious, do so many people – including myself – seem unable to avoid the reefs of life? As humans beings, physical pain is a great teacher and our pain informs us against repeating mistakes and actions that have hurt us in the past. We tend to avoid physical circumstances or physical things that have hurt us or might hurt us. Inversely, we seem to be fairly poor at judges of the more ephemeral and abstract areas like mental or emotional dangers. Clearly, anticipating dangers is a good thing period, but I‟ve found that for my tumultuous life - full of wild ups and downs – it‟s very important that I be always mindful of the potential downfalls. Of course, I think it‟s kind of tragically funny that in my case I prefer to learn about pitfalls by falling into them. Funny because I imagine that most people prefer to learn about danger through observation, but I being a very experiential person actually want to go through adversity and challenges in order to fully understand the experience. To me the experience is everything, and while it might be very difficult for most people to understand why I would want to trip myself up in a mistake, I find it to be the best way to avoid future mishaps. As I reflect, I have to say that I find myself a little odd in that I know that I don‟t like pain – even needles bother me – I tense up when my blood is drawn or when I‟m getting a shot. However, I still jump headfirst into unpleasant and difficult situations – although in all honesty, most of the time I don‟t really know that they‟re all that unpleasant or difficult, because I‟m not really assessing the situation first. Since this seems to be a taking stock of my life kind point in time, I guess I have to wonder, do I want to asses the situation? If I were to assess the situation would I stop exploring? Would I stop trying? Would I stop making the effort? I think the answer would often be yes, because fear would step in and I would be dissuaded. I think that often I choose blind action because I don‟t want to know where the reef is and I‟d rather charge into the situation. However, I think this is there I begin to realize that I need to rely upon the wisdom and attitudes that I learned from my father.
I‟ve spent so much of my life blindly rushing into situations because I‟m terrified that if I pause to consider my actions I‟ll slow down and if I slow down I‟ll lose my conviction and stop what I‟m doing. It might be that I flourish in adversity and hardship, but I think it‟s time to start watching the reef a little more. For better or for worse, I must say that although my fear of the reef prevented me from ever truly enjoying surfing, I think that I then approached the rest of my ventures in life with the attitude that even if something scared the very shit out of me, I was still going to try to do it…and that‟s exactly what I do. There are days, events, situations, and moments where I am so terrified that all I can do is simply push my feet forward and remember to breath. Lately it seems like that‟s mostly all I do – walk and remind myself to breathe. Yet, I am content with this life because I have lived my life to the fullest without regrets. I have given myself wholeheartedly to the moment and I have said yes, yes, yes every time….okay maybe not every time, but most of the time. I‟m a very willing person, but I do say no sometimes. Suffering isn‟t so bad once you accept that you‟re simply going to have suffering. It‟s when you‟re constantly trying to get away from the suffering that it‟s awful because you‟re trying to escape the suffering. I guess that‟s why I think it‟s important to know where the danger, the pain, the suffering is. These negative unpleasant things are always going to be present because they provide the contrast and definition of our lives. Without suffering and unpleasant experiences, how would we know what was pleasant and enjoyable. How could we define positive without the negative. It‟s funny, but in as much as we‟d like to do away with suffering, we do need a certain amount of it in our lives and in the world, or there would be no contrast and no definition. Going back to surfing, if there was no reef or shallow water, there‟d be nowhere for the waves to break and nowhere to surf. So I think the trick lies in recognizing the dangers, learning to respect and understand them, and then skillfully avoiding them – surfing over them, if you will. Of course sometimes you‟ll wipe out.
Sometimes You’ll Wipe Out Yep. It happens – the wipe out. If there‟s a reef, you can be sure that there‟s a good likely hood that you might one day have a wipe out and if you wipe out, it might hurt. Even if you don‟t wipe out over the reef, there‟s always the chance that your board might hit you or you might hit another surfer or some other freak accident might occur. So you‟ll probably have some kind of unpleasant wipe out just falling off your board. Wiping out always scared me - partially because the experience is just plain scary, and partially because the experience can also be simply painful. I was fortunate that I never had any major surfing injuries, but I did see other surfers like my father come back with gashes and serious cuts. I have to say that my father never let this deter him. He never seemed to regret or complain or bemoan his injuries. He simply took these things in stride. I think he might have laughed or joked about wiping out, but I don‟t think he ever be labored it like it was some kind of major anxiety. In turn, though I was very terrified of wiping out while surfing, I‟ve carried this attitude forward in life and as I move through a life of total impermanence and upheaval – I know that there is always a possibility that horrible things might happen to me. In fact horrible things do happen to me - quite frequently it seems, but then that makes sense given that I‟m always eager to take risks and venture to the edge of my comfort zone. This past year alone has been truly awful for me. In the course of just 12 months, I‟ve coped with no less than 2 major break-ups of significant relationships (one was even an engagement), moved cross country, my cat whom I hand raised from a new born kitten disappeared in a coyote infested area, my car was involved in three accidents (one was apparently a drunken hit-and-run, another involved a negligent valet service, and the last occurred when I was trying to parallel park in a very narrow street), I had to fight with an auto repair shop regarding a thousand dollar bill after their repair fell apart, I got a single traffic ticket nearly four hundred dollars, several parking tickets, uncovered some major problems at work, underwent a huge amount of physical and mental stress, fought constantly with my fiancé, then broke up with my fiancé, meanwhile my finances were increasing disarray and despite careful saving and management unforeseen expenses had drained my savings, and next I was looking at taking a loan against my retirement account, and now I‟m writing this book because honestly there were times that I simply wanted to kill myself. Where other people might see California as the state of golden opportunity, I see it as the land of hellish traffic and smog – a world in which most of my life is wasted on the freeway or sitting in traffic aimless watching the tail lights of the car in front of me. To make matters worse, I feel in love with someone that I thought was the love of my life and while I initially thought he wasn‟t the person that I wanted to spend my life with – after a few months – I found myself falling head over heels for him. Then is quickly as it began the entire thing was abruptly over. Meeting Ross, was the one good thing that I felt redeemed my trip to California and made the entire time worthwhile – to lose him
and to lose the entire relationship made me completely question my life and myself and I no longer wanted to continue living. There, I‟ve said it - the nadir that everyone fears. Isn‟t that what so many intelligent, creative, successful individuals fear? That one day you‟ll run into and endless rut that you simply can‟t get out of and you‟ll be faced with the desire to kill yourself? What do you do when you find yourself wiping out? It‟s quite an interesting experience to reach such a low point that you find yourself thoroughly and methodically contemplating your own death because living is no longer a viable option. However, yet again, I time and time again, I find myself seeing beyond the patterns of the waves – the ups and downs – and what I see is that there are waves – nothing more and nothing less. In other words, to me, I‟ve come to the realization that my life is always going to have the potential for disaster. Tomorrow everything could begin to workout and I could have a very successful life for many years, but suddenly a series of events could turn and my life could once again flush right down the drain. What won‟t happen is that I won‟t necessarily change. I‟ve realized that just because I crash and burn, doesn‟t mean that I can‟t get back up and get back on the board. All my life up until just this point, I‟ve bitterly hated my father and I‟ve never wanted to admit how much he‟s inspired me. I‟d probably rather die than admit that he‟s a hero to me. I mean, I‟m a fairly educated elitist, why would I admire the habits and wisdom of a surfer? Simply because of this: my life has been all about riding increasingly bigger and bigger waves, and often I have most certainly crashed. I haven‟t concretely recognized this reality until recently, but now that I‟ve recognized it, I‟ve realized that with this understanding, I have an entire wealth of experience gained from my father that I can draw upon to guide me through life‟s ups and downs. I allowed my fear of the reef to deter me from surfing and I think that as I moved forward in life, I‟ve galvanized myself against that attitude of fearful discouragement. I refuse to allow myself to be dissuaded or discouraged from something because I‟m afraid. I don‟t think of myself as a very courageous person, but in retrospect, I suppose that I am because constantly doing the very things that scare me. It‟s funny because I think back now and I wonder why I was so terrified, I don‟t think I every heard of anyone dying from hitting the reef, so what was I so worried about? Probably in my child‟s mind I was simply envisioning worst case scenarios and with time I‟ve come to realize that often those worse case scenarios either don‟t happen or they‟re simply not worth worrying about. If they happen, they happen. You pick yourself up and move onwards. It's a cold and brutal approach to life, but I feel that it‟s the most appropriate one. I think that it is a most important guiding principal that you will wipe out. Plain and simple. It‟s a fact. This will happen. I have to accept this and move on with my life. It‟s futile and foolish for me to expend energy and effort structuring and arranging my life in such a way so that I might avoid hardship and failure. I would love to never fail, however, I‟ve learned that whenever I‟m trying new things – I‟m bound to fail. Failure is
a natural part of the learning process – and since I‟m so incredibly inquisitive and bound and determined to toss myself right into the thick of things, I‟m probably going to fail a great deal. The lesson that I‟ve learned from all of this literal physical events and abstract life events is that I can‟t allow fear to prevent me from living the life that I want to lead, and I don‟t. It‟s empowering to realize that I have lived my life to the fullest – I rush out each day into the thick of things and I do crash and burn a lot and I certainly do seem to wipeout quite a lot. My life is full of enough catastrophe to evidence that I am not holding back – I am falling right over those cliffs, smack dab into traffic. Maybe I‟m the extreme opposite of being cautious. I am aware of the dangers, I know what are the worst case scenarios. I could have been mugged while I was in L.A. I could have been shot, or had a heart attack. A plane could have fallen out of the sky and hit me. I could have been killed in a horrible fiery car crash. I could have been maimed or knived or paralyzed or mangled. Driving in L.A. is so dangerous and scary – I‟m thankful each day that I‟m alive. I think that we tend to skate over the day to dangers. Driving alone is one of them. I think driving on the freeways alone is a constant brush with death. I‟m always thankful when I get home and I‟ve survived another car trip unscathed. Embracing and accepting the potential disaster frees me up to live in a more fulfilling way – I don‟t have to be defensive all the time. I don‟t have to plan and arrange my life in a compulsive manner, hoping to organize every little event and item in such a way that misfortune won‟t strike me. Most likely something bad is going to happen again. I‟m just going to roll with it and get up again and move on towards something better. I don‟t like the low points in life, and I don‟t want to fail. I would prefer to always be successful and I wish that my life could always be full of nothing but high points. However, this is where I feel that I have to make an argument for empathy and compassion.
Watch out for Other People Another thing that my father impressed upon me is the importance of being aware about and respecting the other people in the water, especially when you‟re on a surfboard – there‟s nothing worse than running another person over with your surfboard.
Empathy and compassion are traits that very important to cultivate if one wishes to successfully surf through a tumultuous life – simply because if you‟re already contending with difficult situations and events – why would you compound that difficulty with animosity and strife between oneself and other people? Of course one of the interesting dilemmas that I see with compassion and empathy is that no one every really says that you can have too much compassion and empathy – but I think that you can. I think that you can have so much compassion and empathy that boundaries are blurred and you take in the experiences and pain and suffering of other people and become overwhelmed by the issues and situations of other people. At which point you can‟t help or aid effectively because you can‟t help the other person (or people deal with other things). Then again, there‟s the other side – where there‟s no empathy or compassion period and there are just boundaries separating. It‟s interesting because I think this is the dramatic theme that was playing out between Ross and I over these last few months. In m line of work in human resources obviously compassion and empathy are key attributes – and people did constantly come to me with their issues and problems. This past year was my first year working specifically in a focused human resources position – prior to this year, I was a corporate trainer, so although I was somewhat part of the human resources world, I wasn‟t really focused in human resources such that I was the human resources lightening rod – so to speak. I hadn‟t really articulated to myself going into the position that I would principally be dealing with people‟s problems, and when it became apparent to me that I was primarily solving issues and dilemmas – by that point my head was sort of already underwater. This was my first year dealing with the job and working with this kind of the job – sure I didn‟t really know what to expect and I only had a vague understanding of the position. As I moved into the position with time, I noticed that I liked being able to help other people. I know what it‟s like to have things going wrong in my life, and I know what it‟s like to have someone else standing there and holding out their hand and saying, “Here, I am, let me help you.” Even if I was only helping people in small ways, I still felt profound satisfaction in the day to day resolution of little details and fine points. It was very interesting to see the interesting to see the dynamic between Ross and I. At first I didn‟t really say much to Ross about my struggles at work. I tried to keep a separation between he and I. With time that became apparent to be an ineffective strategy – Ross voiced frustrations that I was keeping myself separate from him and that he didn‟t like it when I was separate from him. I think I remember him once saying to
me that it was very hard to comfort or help me when I‟m always withdrawing or closing myself off from him. Then I guess when I began to open up, I guess maybe I opened up too much. It‟s funny because I vaguely remember him at one point being very compassionate and empathetic to my situation.