Back to Love Basics 6, Rejection Therapy, Bernie Sanders, and Why I Like Fly Fishing

It’s been a good day, mostly. I received a hugely positive book review, a number of projects I’m working on inched ahead, I met someone who might become a wonderful computer helper, and my wife and I created a surprisingly tasty meal together. Trust me, the last accomplishment was especially satisfying for a blind guy who lives for sumptuous taste.

So why am I writing about “Rejection Therapy,” Bernie Sanders and fly fishing?

Let’s start with “Rejection Therapy.” Just what is it?

Would you believe that “Rejection Therapy” is listed in Wikipedia? by that account, “Rejection Therapy” is a game invented by a guy who wants to help us get over our rejection angst. You win the game by getting the most people to reject you. I would do well with this game.

I’ve been playing “Rejection Therapy” most of my life. However, I’ve been playing in v-e-r-r-r-r-y s-l-l-o-o-o-w motion. As an example, it took me two years to recover from the shame of my first dating disaster before I even considered asking another girl out. By age forty, I’d reduced my recovery time to a mere three weeks.

What might this process have to do with you? Since life is all about relationships and I’m assuming you’ve had your share of these, I think it’s safe to guess that you’ve also had relationship failures. If this is true, the important question is-

How have you dealt with rejection?

Since this discussion is edging towards serious, let me break off and share my afternoon’s rejection therapy experience.

I happen to believe in the Bernie Sanders for President campaign. Without getting too much into it, suffice to say that I’d pretty much given up on American politics after Regan in the 80’s and generally avoided the stench of any news that came from the nation’s capitol. Yes, such behavior could be described as apathetic or un-American, but it was what it was. Then I found myself in the midst of a group of impassioned college kids pitching for Bernie Sanders, an old fart whose been standing up for what he believes is right for America more than thirty years. Those kids got my attention. I checked out Bernie and his ideas and soon I was another impassioned supporter promoting Bernie on street corners,, feeling hope for America again.

I was out this afternoon, standing on a corner in a small middle-class town wearing a big smile, sporting my best positive attitude, as throngs of people passed by on their way to the farmers’ market.

I put out a hearty “Good afternoon!” to everyone walking by. No political pitch, there was a big Bernie sign behind me with leaflets on a table. Just a hearty “Good afternoon!”

And what did I get in return?

Nothing.

They didn’t smile. They didn’t speak. They turned their heads, swerved to walk further away from me, did anything to pretend I didn’t exist.

Wow! I was stunned. I wasn’t pushing any hard sell for Bernie Sanders, just saying, “Good afternoon!”

Nothing.

Well, not quite nothing. I kept an approximate count, and from more than one hundred passersby, I received about five “Good afternoon to you,” responses, and even a few “Go Bernie!” quips. But most everyone went by pretending that a smiling human being, decently dressed, clean shaven, offering a simple “Good afternoon!” didn’t exist.

As I began processing what was going on, my mind flashed on other “Rejection Therapy “ experiences I’ve had. If you’re a writer, perhaps we’ve shared similar countless agent and publisher rejections. but, have you ever been fly fishing?

I hugely enjoy fly fishing for steelhead and trout. I’ve gone entire days without a single strike, not one indication that fish live anywhere near where I’ve been fishing. Yet, this is not upsetting. Sure, a bit disappointing, but like the “Rejection Therapy” game where players can ultimately learn to be at peace with rejection, I’ve learned to pay attention to the total fishing experience and not worry about catching fish. Drifting down a beautiful river, taking in the sounds of Nature, rushing water and songbirds, feeling a warm breeze on my face filled with the sweet scent of pine trees. All these things let me cast hundreds of times without a trace of an excited fish.

I recalled my fishing feelings as people continued to pass by, paying me no heed. Suddenly, I was standing on the bank of the River of Life, taking a deep breath of the fresh jasmine filled air, feeling the sun’s warmth on my face, noting that in front of me flowed a constant stream of fish faces, most of them a species I was not interested in catching. I smiled and kept casting, believing that eventually a bright and curious human being would come by.

Assuming you, my friend, are also seeking mutually supportive intimacy in your life, you’ve also been doing your own form of “Rejection Therapy.” I can only hope your recovery period is significantly less than my current two and one half weeks. The next time you’re turned away, consider seeking a different kind of people to play with, or even a new place to fish.

In case you enjoy such things, here are a few parting thoughts-

“you only catch fish when your line’s in the water.” -a smart ass guide watching me trying to untangle my line from a tree that wasn’t supposed to be there

“Fail faster to succeed” one of those catchy quotes for entrepreneurs who don’t have a clue what it really means.

“You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you’ll find your prince, or princess for that matter” -probably some smart grandmother type comforting a forlorn granddaughter or grandson.

Be happy, it’s a choice!

Tio Stib Signature

You might also enjoy: A Mirrored Smile, Seattle Sun

Jumping Off

leaning out the open door
time roars by
it’s gone
no more
I wonder what my life might be
had I the courage to jump free

behind me in the train’s cocoon
dreams fly off to distant moons
faces glued to heartless screens
joyless stares and silent screams

and so we travel every day
secure and safe or so we say
the child no longer comes to play
the status quo will have its way

will I stay an untold story
remain in hopeless purgatory
pretending that I care no more
soul crying for its need to soar

then I jumped off into space
the unknown flying in my face
It’s not clear where I will land
no matter
I am free again

Tio Stib Signature

You might also enjoy : Life is Like a Broken Egg, Paddling a Submarine vs. Living an Authentic Life.

Back to Love Basics 5, Me First, Igor meets Himself

“She was everything he’d ever dreamed of, beyond all his fantasies, a woman who left him both mesmerized and drooling.

But, he’d been here before.

Sonja. Helibeth. Anna. Leticia , and countless others. They’d all taken his breath away and left his heart fluttering.

“Good God,” he prayed to the unseen force he didn’t quite believe in, “please let this be different. Give me the courage…”

And that was where it ended.

Again.

Once more, courage failed to answer his call.”

“The courage to what?” interrupted my young nephew, overwhelmed with curiosity.

I paused to study the impatient face beside me.

Then I answered, “Igor was afraid to be himself. He thought that the only way someone, especially a beautiful someone, could love him was if he made himself to be whatever they wanted him to be, and that always ended in disaster.”

“Sounds like Igor had a self-confidence problem,” said the boy whose wisdom went far beyond his years. “So what happened with this babe?”

“Max saved him.”

“Max?”

“Max was a mutt, a dog of no particular breed but very particular character,” I answered, thinking that my nephew and Max had a lot in common.

The boy waited, knowing there was more.

I continued, “Slouched in the apartment’s only chair,a barely padded relic that had known many previous backsides, Igor nursed a cheap beer and pondered his situation. Max lay on the apartment’s only throw rug, another well worn relic, his head resting on outstretched forelegs, sad brown eyes watching the beer can waving in the air.

The can paused and Igor stared up at the ceiling, about to say something to the great power he didn’t quite believe in. Then, remembering the futility of previous prayers, Igor gulped more beer and looked down at Max.

“Max, help me out here,” pleaded Igor, “tell me what to do!”

Suddenly brought to life by inner need to contribute, Max sprang into Igor’s lap and slobbered wet tongue kisses all over the lover wannabe’s face.

“Max! Max buddy!” gasped Igor, pushing his over zealous friend back to the floor. Then, Igor smiled, and looked up at the ceiling again.

“Thank you,” he said softly to the unseen.

I stopped and looked at my nephew.

“Is that it?” he said. “Is there some moral or adult thing I’m supposed to get out of this?”

“What do you think?”

“I think Igor is better off with his dog than with fantasy lovers who don’t accept him for who he is.”

Jeez, I thought, this kid really is smart. Why hadn’t I been able to grasp such things at his age? For that matter, why couldn’t I grasp such things when I was forty or even fifty?

“Sounds right to me,” I replied.

“Tio, does this story have something to do with you,” he asked innocently.

Ouch!

Tio Stib Signature

Looking for more Love and Relationship Help? Get “Remedies for Reluctant Romantics, 100 Ways to Win the Love Game” FREE when you sign up for my newsletter. Subscribe with the widget on the right side of my blog.

You might also enjoy: Back to Love Basics 2, Give the Love You Want; Back to Love Basics 4, Friends First

Shape Shifting

the mirror of life stares back at me
a history of those times once free
the many men I’d tried to be
the many worlds I’d longed to see
so many new realities
I lived in hopes of finding me

some were good and some were bad
there were happy times and sad
joyful moments and some quite mad
questing for the dreams I had

some lasted days, some only hours
some grew from seeds to lovely flowers
but then the moment finally came
when each went up in spirit’s flame

was I born a vagabond
to never settle down for long
to never truly quite belong
heart pulled on by distant song

lovers, friends, and passersby
I’ve known them all
said my goodbyes
but now, as I face the end
I wonder if I’ll fly again

the caterpillar exists to eat
the pupa then goes off to sleep
and in its sacred, silky place
transforms into a different face

and so I build my new cocoon
as life within me starts to swoon
in hopes that with the coming moon
I will stretch my wings once more
and fly away to distant shores

so begins my every day
shape shifting in the cosmic play

tiio stib, 2016

You might also enjoy: Paddling a Submarine vs. Living an Authentic Life, A Friend Passes