Sometimes a patient will tell me something in an off-hand way that will strike me as so deeply evocative that it permanently sticks in my memory. Usually it is a comment meant as a “throw-away” line, those little mental detours that occur to us in the course of making some other point. Here’s one. Four or so years ago a woman patient in her mid-thirties told me that she was making love to a male friend, who at a certain point in the climax of their passion looked into her eyes and said “You and I could make the most beautiful baby together”.
I don’t recall why this patient felt the need to say that to me, as she actually had no interest in bearing children, and the topic never came up again. Her comment was uttered casually, and of course she hadn’t the slightest way of knowing that it would take up permanent residence in my consciousness, and not only for the obvious reason that it could help me to entertain a rather interesting fantasy about her sexual behavior in bed (which male psychotherapists do all the time with their attractive female patients, but will almost never admit to). There’s something else: it was the content of the lover’s words to her. What a delicious feeling came over me as I considered what she had been told by her partner.
I thought of my patient with a baby inside of her, her belly protruding in that really adorable way that many pregnant women do. And, for some reason, I imagined her as gently and confidently smiling to herself in a Mona Lisa-esque way, looking at me but somehow not seeing me, her hand resting ever so gently on her stomach, as if to both protect and feel the power of the life unfolding within her. The patient must have noticed my reverie, as I remember that she smiled knowingly at me.
In retrospect, I wonder if the patient’s comment was an unconscious communication of the benefit of the therapy to her; after two years it had clearly given her the sense that she could “birth” new possibilities from within her mind.
Last night I went out to dinner with a woman that I am dating. (She is cute as button, by the way.) A few weeks ago I told her that I have recently had a vascectomy. I love my two beautiful girls from my marriage, but, at age fifty six, I’m all done raising young children. She looked at me with the most mysterious grin and said, “That can be reversed.” She clearly meant it; and, being somewhat my junior, could become pregnant.
“Not gonna happen”, I said, and tried to laugh the whole thing off; though once again I was filled with the same deliciously warm glow that had come over me years earlier with my patient, as I pictured my date’s belly protruding with an unborn human inside of it.
So, this morning I awoke before sunrise with the most uncanny thought: what would I feel like if I were pregnant? As a man, this has always been an extremely difficult thing for me to imagine. But, for some reason this morning I awoke with a more or less clear idea of how such a thing would affect my subjectivity. Ladies, you will have to tell me if what follows is at all reminiscent of your experience.
I imagined feeling utterly preoccupied with this thing inside of me. As if the external world suddenly didn’t matter much, having retreated into some kind of a background haze in my consciousness.
I imagined feeling like the universe turned around me. Or, conversely, that the whole universe was contained within me, physically. Call it a normal and delectable form of profound narcissism.
I imagined feeling that I had achieved something miraculous.
I imagined feeling deeply, deeply calm. Like I was drifting on an endless sea that was mirror still, and perfectly reflected the clouds above, like a Rorschach inkblot that is made by folding an ink stain upon itself to make an identical image.
I imagined feeling connected to the actual, physical world in a way that is unassailable.
So I thought to rush to the laptop and write all of this down before I drift back into man-land, which is happening as I type. Back to the world of doing.
But what a nice spell of simply being.
The picture to the left is a still from the final scene of Stanley Kubrick’s masterful and important 1968 film “2001, a Space Odyssey”. An infant (and a rather giant one at that) floating in space; an expression of God’s mind, perhaps. Or the actual mind of God itself, thinking the universe into Being. Kubrick isn’t clear, nor should he be, as all good art is indeterminate in its meaning.
I relate this image to a larger, archetypal reality, the primitive Earth Mother, an example of which is below.
This is the Venus of Willendorf, a 25,000 – 28,000 year old statuette of the primary paleolithic-era deity, representing the widespread belief that the Earth itself is a conscious, living being that “births” us, and all that is, into existence. Being itself is spewing forth from the engorged belly of a cosmic Mother. Which I find to be an amazingly insightful way of thinking about existence, one preferable to our modern, rationalist-materialist myth that the world is something akin to a dead stone circling the sun. Ugh.
So, there you have it. From “throw-away” comment to the cosmos.