Myths-Stories-and Mental health

Why we love stories? 

Let’s first define what’s the anatomy of a story –  – it has a beginning- a middle  and an end –

How about our life – we know the beginning- the middle is how our life is unfolding -(which one could know if one is able to stand outside the trappings of life) but the “end”- we won’t know – only the “others” would know that once we are gone.

Before I venture into the philosophy of this question I would like to tell few stories- which are really the lives of few persons I found entertaining and want to fictionalize a bit so as to make create a smooth flow.

The plan is to tell a story and go back to the question of our life’s story. 

Story #1

“Living an Oedipal fantasy”

Urvashi worked in my office. I have known her for last 22 years when I started my practice of psychiatry. I met her when I used to go to a church not that I am a Christian or religious at but or just to have some social interaction since I was marooned in this godforsaken Backwaters of Alabama.One could ask how did I endup there. The simple answer is that I was given a choice either to go back to my country of origin which was India or come to this underserved area and put in three years before I could get my green card. I wanted to explore the “underserved Alabama” because the underserved India was pretty familiar and mundane”.

I had just finished my residency in Psychiatry at an inner cityhospital in Brooklyn NY. The turn of the century- year 2000. My flight was supposed to be at 12 noon and I reached well within time but come to find out America’s day light saving had ended and “I was not informed” lol! Bottom line, I missed the flight and it happened to be April 1st. America had made a perfect April fool out of me!

I met Urvashi, few days after I landed in Birmingham,AL. She was a social worker and had just started working there. She was a member of the local Presbyterian church. One of my other colleaguealso went to the same church and invited me for the Sunday service. I first met her in the church. We hit it off well because she was interested in Eastern thought – influenced by Carl Gustav Jung. We often bumped into each other in the cafeteria and at times would exchange ideas. I was learning the southern culture and in the bargain I would share whatever little I knew about eastern philosophy.

She had just earned her graduate degree with a major in social work in-spite of being a single mother of a 5 years old daughter. She lived with her parents. Few months into our association, she met someone got married and moved out of her parental home. Her husband worked in construction and made good money. After three years of the commitment to the “underserved place” I moved to Atlanta,GAand lost touch with Urvashi.

Fast forward, 20yrs and our ways crossed again. We filled each other with some details of our lives in the interim. I had married during this time and we had three children. She had three children as well but was divorced from her husband and was dating someone. We met occasionally during the monthly grand rounds or sometimes over a cup of coffee. As the time went by our relationship evolved from acquaintance to more of a friendship. 

Few days back,  she sought me out,saying she wanted to discuss some pressing issue. That evening we met for a drink. She told me that her son is very angry with her because she is dating his friend. I knew her son was around 18yrs of age and was a senior in high school. I couldn’t help not  ask her about this guy’s age. Lo and behold!he happens to be the same age as her son. Urvashi is around 35. She is in love with this guy- heads over heal. Uravshi’s parents are distraught and so are her friends. Of course, her son is outraged by this situation. Both his friend and he are still living under the same roof. This is just a very brief and very circumscribed view of her “life”. 

If this were to be a “story” it would have an end but “her life” is still unfolding. One could only speculate an end of this affair or not. We are left wanting,because it doesn’t have an end whereas in a story there would be an end. This is the only difference. 

Quoting, Tom Clancy

The difference between fiction and

reality? Fiction must make sense.

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