Jacob, a man in his mid-fifties, is a retired engineer whose training taught him to solve problems and implement change with precision, allowing no margin for errors.
"When I was in graduate
school, all I did was study," Jacob explains. "I had no social life, no
friends, I ate, slept, went to class, and studied; that was my life."
"What was that like for you, to live that way?" I asked.
didn't have a choice; if I wanted to get through school, I had to work
for my grades... not like my roommate, who was a natural."
"It must have been lonely."
"It didn't matter, I wanted to graduate."
"You sound like you were determined."
me explain how it was," Jacob continues. "The tests were basically
equations we had to solve, like if you were an engineer and this was the
equation for the bridge you were building. The calculations had to be
correct; there was no margin for error. Otherwise, the bridge
would collapse; anything less than 100 percent was failure."
had been in therapy and group process for six months. He had been
struggling with the concept of spirituality and was often confused,
offended, and frustrated by the abstract idea of something greater than
himself. His frustrations were often demonstrated by outbursts of anger
"You know, I need proof," Jacob began one
night during a group session. "I need proof that this stuff is real. If
you can give me empirical data, then I might be able to buy into this
stuff. But otherwise, I'm not buying it."
"I have no proof," I said.
I can't buy it," he snapped. "You know I want to get it," he continued,
his anger melting into tears of frustration. "I really do," he said,
his voice trailing off.
Jacob was struggling with the
concept beyond his grasp. Everything he had been taught intuitively and
intellectually was counter to what he was hearing. He was scared to let
go of what he knew. If it was incorrect, like an incorrect equation for a
bridge, his world would come crashing down.
unable to tolerate the blending of the concreted, comprehended by
intellect, and the spiritual and integrate the physical, emotional,
and spiritual aspects of the self, Jacob cut himself off from eh miracle
of recovery. He locked himself into the painful reality of his status