I guarantee you, if you find yourself in a significant relationship with a psychologist, you’re going to have conversations like this.

You:  I hate cold weather.  I could never live in the Arctic Circle.

Psychologist:  You’d adapt.

Or, You: What if the bank foreclosed on our mortgage and we had to live on the street?  That would be awful.

Psychologist (in irritating, know-it-all voice): We’d adapt.

Or, You: I’d really hate it if I didn’t have any arms of legs.  How would I write?

Psychologist (using same irritating voice, like he’s channeling Sigmund Freud): You’d adapt.

You see what I mean?  This is the kind of conversational pattern that makes you want to smack another human being.  When you snap at him, though, he gives you that I’m-only-trying-to-help look, along with the my,-aren’t-you-defensive-today? shake of his head.

The problem is, I don’t always want to adapt.

Take the weather today, which is also very much like the weather from Friday: murky, dreary, frigid, damp, gray, depressing.  It’s kind of like being stuck inside Ingmar Bergman’s head, reliving every bleak moment of your (meaningless) life.  The trees are bare, the branches scrape against the roof, the cold seeps into your bones, the rain chills, the sky is dark — and I keep thinking well, hell, if I wanted to live in Seattle or Sweden or the North Pole, I’d be there right now.  But I don’t.  I never wanted a career as an Eskimo.

“You’d adapt,” my live-in psychologist says, infuriatingly.

No, I wouldn’t.  I’m pretty sure that, if I lived in northern climes in the winter, I’d have to be airlifted out — some kind of deranged, shrieking, emergency, straitjacketed basket case who’d have to be dropped off where the sun shines and the breezes are warm.

But this is Texas.  Blue skies and warm breezes have to be somewhere in our near future.  I’m waiting, I’m hopeful, I’m eating more carbohydrates, I’m grousing.  If this is adapting, I guess I can do it for a while.

(Copyright 2008 by Ruth Pennebaker)

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