Q. Where would you like to be?
A. In a place of greater efficiency.
Q. Why do you say this?
A. I feel as though I’m not managing my time very well.
Q. Has time management typically been an issue for you?
A. Let’s put it this way. I once wasted an hour in a bookstore looking for a book on time management.
Q. How much time do you think you waste per day?
A. At least half the day.
Q. What can you do about this?
A. Well obviously, I gotta get off my rump.
Q. Do you see yourself a lazy person?
A. Not exactly lazy — that’s not my M.O. I’m a person who generally enjoys working. But I’m more like a spacey person — you might say, a scatterbrain.
Q. Absent-minded professor?
A. Adjunct comes closer. Not exactly a full professor . . .
Q. But an absent-minded person?
Q. How long have you been this way?
A. All my life.
Q. Why do you think this is?
A. Something in my mental make-up. My nature is to be more interested in what’s going on in my own head than in what’s happening in the world around me.
Q. When did this first begin to trouble you?
A. In 1976 when I was a student at the UOP Conservatory of Music.
Q. What happened then?
A. I found that I couldn’t concentrate on the reading load. Especially Music History.
Q. What did you do about this?
A. I approached them and said I was having difficulty concentrating.
Q. What did they do about that?
A. They threw me into an intense kinda Freudian therapy group. It had nothing to do with reading comprehension. I was there with a bunch of other people who were having problems, and the facilitator of the group was this really mean guy who kept telling me how horrible I was.
Q. How long did you stay in the group?
A. Too long! I finally walked out after six months or so.
Q. What happened then?
A. The head of the group essentially put a curse on me. He said: “If you bail out now, you are going to be f—-d up for fourteen years!
Q. Fourteen years??
A. That’s exactly what he said. The number fourteen. I’ll never forget it.
Q. What happened throughout those fourteen years?
A. Well naturally I could never stop think about the curse! I had good times and bad times, numerous office jobs, a few musician gigs, a couple failed efforts at college degrees, but I mainly just couldn’t get it out of my head how f—–d up I was supposed to be.
Q. What happened when the fourteen years were up?
A. This is the weird thing. I know I was an impressionable young man, otherwise I wouldn’t have stayed in that ridiculous group for as long as I did. But I believe the effects of the curse from a stern male authority figure were deep-set.
Q. How so?
A. There came a day in the year 1990 when I had just finished a long-term temp contract with PG&E, and I had no idea how to pay my rent. I was stuck in a tiny town near the Contra Costa Power Plant, feeling sorry for myself. Then one day I got up and something was different. I immediately went out and ran two miles and did a set a push-ups. Then I got into the shower, and for reasons unknown to me, I started shouting:
“I am a child of God! I am a child of God!! I am child of the Most High King! I am a child of God!!”
Then, stepping out of the shower — feeling absolutely wonderful — I saw that there was a message on my answering machine. It was from a pianist whom I hardly knew who wanted to tip me off on a job she’d been offered. The job was at a place called Gulliver’s Restaurant, in the city of Burlingame California. This pianist, whose name was Tracy Stark, had decided to play on a cruise ship instead. (Much better money). So she was spreading the news of a possible gig. (Musicians do help each other out this way, you know).
I put my best duds on, drove my Oldsmobile Cutlass down to the Bay Area, and hit the keys of a piano for the first time in six months. It was a Yamaha C-3 baby grand, by the way. When I touched the keys, I breathed a sigh of relief.
“Aahh!!” I exclaimed, feeling as though I was back where I belonged in life. I then played my medley of “My Favorite Things” and “Orphan in the Storm.” The manager handed me a W-9 and said: “Welcome to Gulliver’s.”
The rest is history – or my own history anyway. I sat on that piano bench four nights a week for the next nine years.
Q. What do you make of all this?
A. The therapist was a sadist, and I was a gullible, vulnerable young man with all kinds of insecurities that he played upon. The “curse” was nothing but power of suggestion. I gave the fellow that much power. When fourteen years had past, God intervened.
Q. Say, is there a name for your condition?
Q. What can you do about it?
A. I think the answer is clear. It’s the same answer for us all. Trust in God – whomever you conceive God to be — and believe in yourself.
The Questioner is silent.
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