I’ve been remembering someone who changed my life. He has been gone years now; his name was Micheal, my first therapist. I was barely in my 20’s and self-destructive didn’t come near describing me. He said he liked my art and, even if I paid him, he listened. Naturally I fell profoundly in love with him. The therapy term is transference. Just to be clear, he had a huge mole right next to his nose and chain-smoked through our sessions. And for what it’s worth, I loved his wife, too. In our work together he managed to steer my unspoken love through a barrage of obstacles, around back to me.
When I was the most doubting of my self-worth, he used this Shakespeare quote: “Assume that virtue if you have it not.” It was a more literary way of saying fake it till you make it. I debated it with him–acting out a lie didn’t make it true. Brutal honesty appealed to me more than cheesy fibs. I came from a family of realists, in the worst sense of the word.
I was a slow study. The word that stuck in my throat was virtue. Could I assume a virtue, even as bad as I was, and have real change come into my life through a lie? Even a positive lie was still a lie, right? I decided to pretend to be more like my dog.
Ends up, you can imagine yourself a whole new life. Sure, it takes a committed while, and I had more than a few demons to exorcise along the way, but change is possible. My confidence has been remodeled a few hundred times from the tiny framework he helped me build all those years ago, but I still recognize Micheal’s handiwork at the foundation.
And this pasty, egg-headed literary quote has served me well, through one unlikely adventure after another. If you use it long enough and you just say, why not? Why not send your manuscript off to publishers?
Week 9 didn’t bring even a small nibble on the manuscript. I waited on the couch, sick with sinusitis, and all the affirming I could manage didn’t stop my rib-splitting cough. I made a temporary, but strategic retreat to chicken soup and ice cream.
I notice on a good day, confidence is a moot point. The real test comes during a long siege. Well, take all the time required. I’ve thrown Shakespeare in front of greater challenges than this; we’ll be right here.
And thanks, Micheal. I think you’d like this book.
So, Readers, any advice that has stuck with you over the years? Any unsuspecting hero you’d like to give a grateful nod to?