Creatures of a Day by Irvin D. Yalom

Creatures of a Day by Irvin D. Yalom

Author:Irvin D. Yalom
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Basic Books
Published: 2015-01-16T16:32:45+00:00

~ 7 ~

You Must Give Up

the Hope for a Better Past

“I want this to be different from our last consultation. This time I want a complete overhaul. My sixtieth birthday is approaching, and I want to change my life.”

Those were Sally’s first words. A handsome, forthright woman, she looked straight into my eyes and held my gaze. She was referring to our previous therapy six years earlier, when she had requested four, and only four, sessions to help deal with her protracted grief following her father’s death. Though she had used that time efficiently and explored her stormy relationship with her parents in some depth, I sensed there was much more that needed attention, but Sally had been resolute in her wish for only four sessions.

“I’m not sure how much you remember about me,” she continued, “but I’ve worked forever as a physics technician and that’s what I want to change. The truth is that my heart’s never been in that work. My real calling is writing. I want to be a writer.”

“I don’t recall your mentioning that before.”

“I know. I wasn’t ready to talk about it then. Not even to talk to myself about it. Now I am ready. And I’ve contacted you again because I know you’re a writer and I think you can help me find my way to becoming a real writer.”

“I’ll do my best. Fill me in.”

“I’ve made the decision to put my writing first. I’ve got enough money to do that now, with my retirement benefits and my husband’s job. He’s an airline pilot, and even though United has stolen the pilots’ pensions—the CEO really needed his hundred-million-dollar salary and bonus—my husband still makes good money, at least for the next five years. And the most important thing is that I must have talent.”

“Must have talent? Tell me about that.”

“I mean I must have some talent. I won a literary guild fiction prize for new writers when I was eighteen. Four thousand dollars. And that was forty-two years ago.”

“A huge award! Quite an honor!”

“Quite a curse, it turned out.”

“How so?”

“I got this notion I could never live up to that honor. I began to feel like a fraud and was afraid to show my work.”

“What did you write?”

“What do I write, we should say, because I’ve never stopped writing. A bit of everything—an unending stream of poetry and stories and vignettes.”

“And what have you done with all your work? Have you published any of it?”

“Aside from the novella that won me the prize, I’ve published nothing. Never tried to publish. Not once. But I’ve still got every piece I ever wrote. Couldn’t send anything out and couldn’t throw anything out. I put everything in a big box and sealed it with strong tape. Everything I’ve written since my teens.”

A big sealed box containing everything she’s ever written! My heart began to race. Slow down, I said to myself, for I was slipping into my identity as a writer and felt myself getting too involved.


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