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  • Dr. Ted Klontz

Random Thoughts December

I wonder if the human “Death Rattle” offers the same promise as the rattling of the Monarch’s chrysalis just before she emerges?

A man who I credit with saving my psychological life, David Whyte, suggests that the difference between “Older-ing” (getting older) and “Eldering” is that with the latter, we start celebrating other’s accomplishments and agendas, more so than ours.

Why do people say “bless you” when I sneeze, and say nothing while they duck and cover when I cough? I’ve heard the sneeze reason, supposedly a medieval benediction to my impending death from the plague, much as “Ring Around the Rosey” celebrates my impending death from smallpox. (Why do we still teach, sing and act that song out? With children, no less?) What is the “say nothing” when I cough rationale?

I read recently of those young people who threw food at a famous painting. When I heard of it I thought “what in the world were they thinking?“ Then as I was walking out of the convenience store this afternoon this thought came to me from somewhere. What if someone came up to me just before I started my car and said, “If you start that car your youngest grandchild will immediately die because they have will have no air to breathe”. I probably would not start my car. I wonder if that’s what they were trying to tell me? I like to be confronted by question(s) like that. That is, if I am the one questioning my behaviors.

I am sure that there is logic behind the economy of hacking people’s identities, I have no idea what that is. I’m guessing it is a big business opportunity. If so, I get it, it is a business opportunity. Even so, I have trouble understanding what kind of a personal deficit would cause someone to spend their days doing such things. If it isn’t about making money, perhaps it is about killing time, or their lack of authentic connection to anyone and anything within their world? A form of video gaming?

I was talking to a friend who was asked to volunteer for a position at a church he was attending. When he asked the pastor what he was being asked to volunteer for, the pastor replied, “There are Indigenous people who don’t attend our church, who just walk in and eat the donuts that we provide for our congregation.” He went on to say, “And since you are of their ethnicity, and you have a big imposing image I would like for you to provide security for the congregation and keep them away from the donuts.” My friend said, “Why don’t we do what the founder and namesake of this church and this denomination, and this religion did?” “What’s that?” the pastor innocently asked. “Feed them and wash their feet” my friend responded. The pastor turned and walked away without saying a word. So did my friend. I have cool friends.

I did what turned out to be a suicide prevention/intervention workshop on the Reservation recently. I decided to look up the meaning of suicide. Four words into the definition, the words, “Mental Illness” occurs. I had the thought that “No wonder so few people are able to talk about when they might be considering it. Who wants to live with the implications and complications of being labeled “Mentally Ill”?

The other thought I had was that I believe every human being has been in such pain (or will be) or suffered such a loss that we have had the thought of wanting in some form, to “quit” life at one point or another (even if just for an instant, even if just a little bit). Why then, is this thought considered so abnormal? To me that thought to relieve ourselves of unremitting pain, seems programmed into our human DNA. What would happen if we de-pathologized that impulse and treated the thought of suicide as another example of what it means to be human? What if we understood it was a message from our very core that something needed to be changed, or something needed to be done, and we taught people how to listen to that messenger, with compassion and curiosity?

To me, labels such as “Mentally Ill” are a sophisticated and socially accepted form of pejorative name calling. I wonder how much, in this case, the definition is a part of the problem? (Actually, I don’t wonder, I see the cost of such labeling every day).

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