The Wise Person Spoke
Augusta State University. Augusta, Georgia. Counseling Center, May 1999. I stashed my purse on the floor and opened my notebook prepared to write notes on Dr. Bonnie Blanton’s lecture: Career Development Theory and Practice. Outside, the first hint of Spring brought relief from the cold, dreary Southern winters so different from the California winters I’d been used to.
Graduation was just a year away: Fall 2000. I’d already begun the countdown.
While I waited for our lively, energetic, and resourceful professor to arrive in her usual flurry of cheerful observations about anything from the latest movie, thoughts about a book she’d just read, or a new and delicious recipe, I reviewed her comments on a paper I’d written titled: How a Conversation on the Back Porch Led to Passages.” She wrote: “This is fascinating. Did you work with your client Bob to see if this would be a viable plan?”
For a split second, I thought about my client, a former military officer who’d been laid off from his job as a maintenance chief and was working odd jobs to support his family. The longer he looked, the harder it was for him to stay in emotional turmoil. His comment that almost broke my heart, and I’ve never forgotten, is still with me – “The kids who are getting jobs don’t know anything about what it’s like for someone my age to be looking for work,” he said. “Everyone is looking for youngsters, not an old guy like me.” (his self-talk). We worked to get past his feeling he was a “big, fat zero.”
Dr. Blanton got down to business with her lecture and said today’s exercise consisted of two components: First, sit quietly and ask a question. Then, write the answer.
This should be interesting. What’s the question? Why must we be quiet? How will she grade us? Twenty-four graduate students had to wonder what our mischievous professor was up to.
Dr. Blanton spoke in the quiet voice she reserved for an idea, thought, or concept she hoped would sink deeply into our cerebral cortex.
“Inside all of us,” she began. “Is a Wise Person. I’m not suggesting I know how that Wise Person got there. Or who or what that Wise Person is. What I do want is for you to make a connection with your personal Wise Person. Then I want you to ask that Wise Person one question. What do I want to do with my life? First, I want you to listen. Next, I want you to write your answer. Then we will discuss what you discovered.”
The rambunctious class became unusually quiet for a long time. Then we started to write.
I didn’t have to wait longer than a few minutes before I wrote, “I want to be a writer. That’s all I want to do and all I ever wanted to be – a writer. Not because being an author was my father’s dream. It’s because I love books. I love to read them. I love stories. I even wrote a poem titled: The Little Turtle when I was eight.”
I was already working on a book and would finish the last page of Jigsaw and Jane: Thirteen Years of Murder and Mayhem in 2019. My professor was right. My Wise Person did lead me to the deepest truth about me. And my client, Bob? Finally, in our sessions, he began to revise his perspectives, and his personal narrative and found a job he loved. The lesson I’d learned from Dr. Blanton, applied to my client and assisted him in listening to his inner Wise Person.