Telephonic Posturing

The following is an excerpt from the book, With Covid, All Things Are Possible, set to be published in December 2022.

Years ago I had a tremendous therapist: she helped me untangle (debunk?) several folkway assumptions. During one of our sessions I pulled out a togo clamshell filled with salad, and revealed to her (honest to a fault – posturing – raised Catholic {punish me for doing wrong} – posturing posture?) my act of grabbing the salad from the carry out refrigerator without paying (I stole the item) to avoid being late to my therapy appointment. She laughed and said my gesture is not stealing. My therapist continued by stating she knows I have full intention of paying for the salad at some point during my shift tomorrow. I thought her thoughts on the matter were complete, but she had more to say, and it somewhat shocked me. “And if you forget to pay tomorrow, who cares! Listen, if you need to grab food (nourishment) from the cafe where you work, a salad that you just told me you made, who cares – take the salad; and you should not feel one bit guilty over the matter. Are you going to take more stuff without paying tomorrow? The next day? Next week? No, why would you, you are an honest person; and anyway, it’s not your style. You’re a good employee: as far as I am concerned, that is your salad – I’m glad you took it. In fact, I insist you not pay for the salad!” At this point she was chuckling and gesturing with comedic affectation. 

Now, to what degree was she posturing? Honesty? She further explained her thought process by insisting, that at its essence, life is survival – but should also not be taken too seriously. After she reduced her reasoning to its simplest parts, she asked me, “In what world is what you did harmful?” Once again, being raised Catholic (despite my years of dishonest deplorable behavior), her reasoning, in my mind, was just a convoluted excuse to validate a dishonest act, but in her mind, survival trumps all (and equating not stealing a salad to survival impediment is a stretch). I remain somewhat unsure as to the motivation and commitment to her “salad lesson,” but I am going to tell you my interpretation: sometimes you need to do whatever the fuck you need to do to get through a day. My feeling tells me she, with her 20+ years of experience, understands the potential long term detriment of all or nothing honesty. With or without Catholicism’s dogmatic support, this can be a slippery slope guised as pragmatic self-governing – it safely removes morals from the decision making process without argument because the stakes are so high – move towards or away from survival; or, does my therapist prescribe to the school of morals, much like all words, are man made? Her argument reduces to intent: therefore, able to sidestep the potential pitfalls and interference of superfluous rules. Decisions, when distilled through this simple metric, enter the realm of individual determinations – a case by case basis. This ethos can become tricky as variables increase, and even moreso, when unknown variables increase. There are lots of assumptions in play to arrive at her philosophical code, but I find it necessary to mention only one: she must assume the byproduct intention of her personal code’s self-appraisal to be true, which can only be safely arrived at through years of intense self-reflection. Enough rubric tested data must exist in one’s personal Rolodex to enact quick-twitch decision making and validate intention as true. And, although technically stealing, does keep things complicatedly simple and honest – a perverse self-referential interpretation of several societal assumptions. But, to restate, when one is convinced of their “survival” appraisal, there really is no other logical argument: life wants to keep living. (The essence of life is simplistic and beautiful – stay alive as long as possible.)


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