Somebody had money burning a hole in her pocket this weekend, so we ventured to the mall shopping for prom shoes, jewelry, and outfits for her senior pictures. We casually walked the mall as hundreds of others around us laughing, talking, singing, and having a good time. Every so often, I would travel slightly off the path even though we were headed to the same destination. After a couple of these patterns, my daughter asked me why I kept walking sideways. I laughed it off and told her that I was just keeping her on her toes – working on her awareness skills.
However, I was actually very much aware of more than our destination and routes. I was avoiding the line of sight of several people I have counseled in my office. They were laughing and having fun with their comrades, as well. I did not want to interrupt the joy I observed. I took time to appreciate it because I rarely saw it in the office.
When people come to me, they are troubled and I see a lot of the “bad” they have shielded from others. I explain during initial consultations that I will protect our “counseling” relationship if ever we were to meet in public. I would treat them just as any other stranger unless they approach me first. The greeting would be simple and general as if we had never formally met. They would never be forced to explain to anyone in the room how they know me because it’s my job to protect that “counseling” relationship and the troubles which haunted them. Consequently, when I see them in public, I move in the opposite direction to reduce the likelihood of an encounter outside of the counseling office. I move to reduce the likelihood of a memory overshadowing the present. I move to reduce the likelihood of my private counsel becoming a public interest. I move because that’s my role – to protect the “counseling” relationship.
So, I am sure I looked like I was losing my mind to my daughter. By the end of our shopping trip, she was laughing at me so hard, she could barely walk straight herself. It was good to hear her laugh and to keep watching those who I had seen cry so many times, continue laughing. The blessing was seeing the manifestation of work, because the people I was avoiding had done the work to laugh, to enjoy life, and to experience peace. These things are not always “a given” so don’t take it for granted.