Gerald and I were both startled speechless when the old pendulum wall-clock my father gave me 40 years ago, boomed a loud chime in the quite studio where we were looking at a project I was making. This wall-clock stopped working for at least the last ten years. We looked at each other astonished for a second, shook our heads and continued with our task. Then the clock fell to the ground with a crash, making sounds as the copper pendulum disk clattered and the lyre continued a fading lyric that once made harmonious time announcements. Startled again we look at each other with more meaning this time, both knowing that my deceased father is strongly associated with this clock. I used to tell my clients who visited this office before it became a studio, that my father is trying to tell me something when the clock started to chime at odd times outside of its regular beat.
Gerald noticed a shadow in the periphery of his vision, moving very fast and hardly noticeable in the far corner of the room. He discarded the notion as imagination. I too noticed it, but logic convinced me about the impossibility of someone being in that room. Then I remembered that not even an hour before, I spoke to a client about my father. The client was worried about his adult son who has broken the law for the umpteen time. This father was uncertain about bailing the son out of his consequences and asked my advice. This was when my father’s story came to mind, and I told him how my father grew up without a father and had a very tough life finding his way to become a responsible, wise father himself, always teaching my brother and me through metaphor, sometimes stories he would make up as he contemplated the world around him.
The story my father told me (which I now shared with the client) was about a man who caught his child every time the child jumped from a high wall. The child would call out “father, father catch me”, and the father would step forward and catch the child, over, and over again. One day the child, who was now grown up, did the same and the father was not as young and agile as before, so he stepped aside, and his child fell flat on his face. The child cried and cried “father, father why did you not catch me?” with so much resentment in his voice. The father answered “I will not always be there to catch you, my son. You need to know how to catch yourself from now on. A father is only there for a short while in your life to support you, then you need to know how to be courageous and strong to support yourself”.
This metaphor has so many interpretations on many levels. Sometimes we are the child in the story and sometimes the parent. It is very difficult for an empathic parent to set boundaries, but if we do not do that, we harm our children more than help them. Love also needs to be firm sometimes so that the action is in the best interest of the development of the child. Love does not mean that you give in to whatever the child wants, because what they want might not be what they need to become responsible, wise, self-sufficient, and confident. From the child’s point of view, it might seem that their parent is cruel, but their viewpoint is still undeveloped and imprudent. A child thinks short term and needs immediate gratification, which does not contribute to maturity.
What choices do you make to support yourself in life? Are you relying on a system, parent, partner, or child to bail you out, or are you choosing to act in ways that will improve your health and wellness? Do you see yourself as a victim of childhood or other circumstances, or do you use every challenge in your life as an opportunity to heal yourself, no matter the form of the challenge?
I thought for a second about the synchronicity of the clock falling of the wall despite a secure screw, and the earlier conversation with the client who needed his adult son to experience severe consequences of his behaviour without being bailed out by the father. Is my father trying to tell me something more? I asked him in a soft thought.
Waking up in the early hours of the morning it dawned on me that my decision to retire from my psychological practice, is my acceptance of having to step aside from my responsibilities. I know and have seen how my clients have grown and claimed their independence. The time has come for me to step aside for them to fly on strong wings.
This morning I gently secured the clock to an even stronger hook on the wall and even though it is not working any longer, started the pendulum anyway.
Love and Blessings,