Monday, October 31, 2011
This week my seven-year old granddaughters came to my house for a sleepover. The two cousins had a lot to twitter about (in the old style of twittering) since they both have a "crush" on the same boy. Wow, I wondered, isn't seven kind of young to be so focused on one person?! When I mentioned their precociousness to one of their Mom's, she said she had already been asked when and how she "knew" that Daddy was the one she wanted to marry.
Questions like that comes up in therapy from time to time: how do I know he or she is "the one?" New relationships often prompt that kind of inquiry. Sometimes it happens once the relationship is more progressed: did I make the right choice? Is he or she really the soul mate I was destined for or am I supposed to be with someone else?
The curiosity of my little granddaughters is light and innocent, like their giggles and secrets. But the questions raised in therapy about "the one" can be agonizing. How indeed do we know whether we're on track or not? Disconnected from intuition and inner guidance, we can flounder and lose our way.
I've lived both with intuition and with floundering. We probably all have. When people used to ask my husband and me how we first met, we each would tell the same story differently. My story was more factual. His went straight to the heart.
It was late in August, 1967. I had just gotten on a bus heading west on Armitage Avenue, on my way back from a conference on "new politics" in downtown Chicago. While paying my fare, I looked around and saw the usual neighborhood types, mostly Hispanic women with kids and a few assorted men. A college student type was seated towards the back by a window, reading a book. That was an unusual sight in this ghetto.
I sat down by the driver, close to the door, absorbed in my own thoughts. When I began to feel what the controversial researcher Rupert Sheldrake calls "the staring effect," I looked up to see two penetrating eyes take cover behind the book. The book was Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse.
And this is the way my husband Tom used to tell the story: He was sitting on a bus alone when a young woman (that would be me) got on. Aside from the driver, they were the only two people on the bus. She was the only one he could see. (He only had eyes for me).
As it happened, we got off the bus at the same stop: Sheffield and Armitage. We both waited for the light to change. We were both heading in the same direction.
Could it be as simple as Malcolm Gladwell suggests in his book Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking? In the first two seconds of looking - in a single glance - he knew! Me, it took longer. We crossed the street together. I spoke first. I asked if he lived in the neighborhood (he did). He told me he was in graduate school at the Art Institute of Chicago. I told him my sister was a student there too. We talked. We talked some more. He asked my name. I asked his. He said Tom Seghi. In my mind I heard the words, "Laya Seghi." It sounded right to me.
The rest of our story evolved. I floundered and I knew or I knew and I floundered. It took me three decades before I told him about hearing that inner voice on our very first encounter. (The "why" for that is a whole different story.) I preferred hearing him tell about meeting the "love of his life." Looking back now, this chapter of our story concluded, I marvel at his vision and my inner voice and at the power of first impressions. We both knew!