I have not read “Eat, Pray, Love.” When it was so ubiquitous that one could hardly ride a NYC subway or find a book club that was not reading it, I instantly rebelled, just as I did with all of Harry Potter and every other book that captures the mind and hearts of the people and carries it off into the successful sunset. I have always preferred the books of people less known, less successful: those who struggle in the dark nights to put pen to paper and create. So, too, am I a snob in my own profession. I scorn most of the available literature, seeking instead, the wisdom of those less travelled, who have suffered through a personal journey and have emerged with something that resonates with me. In the previous two decades, my creative spirit has been most in tune with that of those who profess a connection to The Life Participation Approach to aphasia. So, when I came across this TED talk by Elizabeth Gilbert, I felt immediately guilty for having scorned her work, since I find in this talk, parallels between her ideas of creativity, and that which lives in my therapy room.
A century ago, when I was in graduate school, I read a piece by Gerald Siegel. (In the interest of full disclosure, let me state that he lived near my cousin Harry Seltzer’s father’s paint store in Brooklyn, and so when I arrived at the University of Minnesota in the 60’s, and introduced myself, he announced that I must surely be family.) This article had to do with the the limits of science in speech pathology. If you struggle with the notion of blending art and science into your work,take time to read this article, embedded in this post.
The idea of there being an art to our work as well as the science was extremely important to me. I loved what aphasia was becoming for me, but hated the idea of being a “clinician”: one who applied certain tested principles and constructs to the efforts of remediation, and thus, furthered the scientific process. I longed to be a “creative” therapist – one who could use those same principles and constructs, but in ways they had not been used before. And, to be the kind of therapist who achieved success because of that departure.
Okay, Elizabeth. I will try not to be daunted. I will try to just do my job.