If you're one of the more or less well-adjusted in life, the 'walking well', but nevertheless feel a little sad from time to time, a touch blue and want to mull over the Meaning of Life with a (dis)interested professional, who would you see?
Some would phone their Mum, or chat to a friend. And it's not that I'm against this, but I'd be looking for someone with less of a vested interest in the discussion. I'd also be interested in someone who had thought long and deeply about what it's all about.
Many would hunt up a psychologist or reach for a motivational book perhaps. Or consult the clergy.
But what about we happy atheists who are still looking for guidance and direction, just on a more earthly plane? Choosing someone to chat to can be fraught.
This is not solely the terrain of the orthotically clad Baby Boomer; everyone would benefit from surveying the ideological implications of moral responsibility.
Perhaps Medicare could be persuaded that a private philosophical consult was worth it given that such a possibility could impact significantly on the mental health of a nation. In fact, personal training in the kind of individual responsibility afforded by contemplation of one's choices and imagining the consequences of one's actions could have wonderful outcomes for us all!
These days I think I'd choose a philosopher or a writer! I wonder whether Alain de Botton or Alexander McCall-Smith or Liz Byrski do private life style-philosophy consults? A relaxed chat over coffee or High Tea, in a publicly intimate setting. No axes to grind. Just a fairly dispassionate consult.
I'd like a philosopher or writer who wasn't too angsty; someone who understood that I was a fairly generic female Baby Boomer who fitted the cultural stereotype of retired middle-class school teacher, one who has muddled along through life, always with the best of intentions and often side-swiped by subconscious forces, or health issues. My issues aren't huge in the wider scheme of things, but they do cause me discomfort from time to time.
Perhaps part of the consult would be a little pre-reading, a book list to consult first to see that you were both on the same page.
I love the work of all three worthies noted above, but my most recent experience has been with a novel by Liz Byrski. I reckon that there should be a warning attached to her fabulous novel, 'Gang of Four', a warning specifically aimed at all we women of 'a certain age'. If you are feeling vulnerable then you might want to handle this book with care; or dive right in! The ideas in this novel have such a powerful implication that I feel like recommending it to friends as I would a natural health remedy. In fact, I'm a bit too scared to do so as the parallels for some are so scarily apt that I'd hate to feel responsible for creating a tsunami in some one's life.
I'm about to start my third Byrski book in a fortnight and it's almost too powerful. Byrski is such a proponent of the cleansing benfits of tumultuous personal change. At least, that's my take on her thematic concerns so far. I've read 'Belly Dancing for Beginners', 'Gang of Four' and I'm about to start 'Last Chance Cafe'. I 'recognise' the characters and situations so deeply that I find myself amazed. I hadn't realised how desperately I have been looking for literature to recognise where I am in my current stage in life.
Not that I'm about to head to Europe solo for a year, but it has its attractions.
Would you be up for a philosophy fix or a novel idea?