Two Cups of Coffee with my Mate John
I’ve been visiting family in Christchurch over the holiday season, and it’s been nice to be back in town having moved away this time exactly a year ago. Coming back you notice the changes in a recovering city, and you notice what’s not changed. You get to see a year’s progress, and you notice what has stayed stuck. There’s a metaphor in Christchuch’s recovery trajectory that’s all about letting go the past and letting go ego and stepping into the new and the reinvention of yourself. But that’s best left for another blog post.
Being back in town allowed me to reconnect with my mate John. John is an ex-colleague I used to work with right after I finished my Masters degree, when we were employment coaches, helping to nudge the most disaffected and long-term beneficiaries of broken post-earthquake Christchurch back into work, when there wasn’t any work, and when they didn’t want to work. We both lasted a year before the company realised their futility, and we both had ground ourselves down to burnout from frustration, but not before quite a few cups of coffee and a connection forged from shared struggle and shared love of wisdom and insight into the human condition.
John is the most insightful person I know who is not a psychologist. In fact, he has such a deep and accurate and perceptive view of the world, he should be a psychologist. Or a social worker, or somehow a helper of people through his gift of understanding.
He asked me about my brother, and I told him about our ongoing rift and how it saddens me, and how I have work yet to do about letting some stuff go. And quick as a flash John was describing the ongoing dispute within his own family, and about the impact of birth order on family dynamics and on personality outcomes, and about the psychological mechanisms of confirmation bias keeping dysfunctional personal narratives alive, feeding grudges, and maintaining relationship divisions.
He was right on point of course, because John always is. In his patient ever humble way. It seems such a shame that in order to officially be sanctioned to help people he would need a few years of qualifying for this or that degree, or have to satisfy some board that he had this or that experience to be able to register for such-or-rather. Whatever the official requirements are. The fact is, here is a man who sees things better than you, who will pierce your bullshit better than you ever could, who will listen more patiently than you ever will, whose summation of a situation will be more accurate and stripped of your biases than you will ever arrive at on your own. I do enjoy my two cups of coffee chats with John, and I hope that we have many, many more.