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Ghost of Sam Post

December 2008 - Posts

  • Lessons From The Brothers

    There is an interesting movie out now called Stepbrothers. It stars Will Farrell and John C. Reilly as the sons of two single parents. Fortunately­­­­­­­, one parent is male; the other parent is female. They meet and marry and their children, each forty years old, become stepbrothers. Two households become one and the fun begins. The two boys are spoiled beyond belief; they act like two-year-olds. They have their favorite toys and games - all infantile. They argue and fight over stupid things. Their parents act like the parents of two-year-olds. Of course, when forty-year-old men act like two-year-old spoiled children, they do quite a bit of damage, so this new living arrangement takes on horrendous proportions. The boys are jealous and devious and very destructive. The parents are powerless to rectify the problem. In desperation the parents decide that their children should be out on their own with jobs and independent living. The father is about to retire and he wants to take his sailboat on a cruise around the world with his new wife. They sell the house, which means that the boys will be forced to act like grownups. The boys rebel, but they eventually find jobs and move out to act more responsibly.

    The movie is definitely a comedy; it is very funny. But, upon closer scrutiny, the viewer will see that the story has a much deeper message. It is a realistic view of the American family. It shows one reason why people are so stressed out and neurotic. The problem, if seen out of complete context for the movie presentation, is the parents' inability to raise their offspring as mature, responsible people; the parents have spoiled their children thus preventing them from growing. This is a real problem in our society. It appears that the writer of the story is telling his/her audience: "Hey, stupid people, stop hurting your children and society by spoiling them". Spoiling prevents maturation and it results in a child that cannot operate in any form of mature society. The children are lost; they cannot function; they become neurotic, and then they reproduce to repeat the destructive cycle.

    Near the end of the movie, after the boys have shown some maturity with their jobs and living arrangements, the parents decide to have everyone live together once again. The impression, if only for a moment, is that the maturity problems are eradicated and that all is well. But when the family is reassembled at the house, the father calls the boys (remember they are both forty years old) to the backyard for a surprise. They go to the yard where the father has taken a sailboat (the one that the boys destroyed earlier) and mounted it in a tree, like a tree house, for the boys to play in. He says that there are other surprises inside and the boys climb into the tree boat to find that their toys have been assembled there for them to play with. The infantilization begins anew.

    Up to the last scene, the movie appears to have a resolution. The final scene, however, shows us that things in this society don't improve; they just get worse. How nice it would be, for the survival of man, to listen when lessons come to us from many different sources, even entertaining movies such as Stepbrothers. It could be that there is no redemption at hand for the human race since we continually seek a path of self-destruction. Do we deserve redemption? From the viewpoint of this writer, bringing help to this society would be analogous to casting the Biblical pearls before swine; we would not know what to do with it. So says Sam Post.

    Posted Dec 27 2008, 08:06 PM by Sam Post with no comments
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  • Restaurant University

    I have always done my best work in restaurants. I am happy to say that I have guided the lives of many people to a better life by the meetings that we have had in many different eating establishments over the course of many years. Some people like the solitude of a private office when meeting with a therapist; others seem to respond better to the warm atmosphere found in restaurants while dining. Besides, talking about personal areas of one's life in the office may for some be exacerbated by the "formal" therapeutic surroundings. I feel that flexibility is the most important part of my work with people, and so the venue matters little, so long as the reason for the meeting is accomplished. Up to now counseling/therapy has been the main reason for restaurant visits (besides having dinner). More recently, something new has emerged.

    Some of my students have kept in contact with me over time and they have desired social gatherings. Usually this is on a one-to-one basis. We meet (at a restaurant) and have dinner while discussing all manner of subjects but I have noticed that they are seeking something more specific. While meeting with one student recently, I may have discovered something really rewarding, for both of us. The waitress approached our table to ask for our order, she is also a former student and so I introduced my dining companion to the waitress with the knowledge that both of them had taken the same course with me in times previous. They spoke briefly about their individual experiences in my class and each asked the other about what they were doing at present. These were all normal questions under the circumstances. I was more than complimented when my dining companion said that he was "going to graduate school", referring to our meetings. As I drew him out on the subject, he said that I represented for him the Star Wars characters Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda; he said that he regarded himself to be Luke Skywalker. Naturally, I felt complimented and very surprised. (Of course I don't know if he regarded me this way because I am short with huge ears, or that I look soooo...old, but at least he didn't think that I resembled R2D2 in any way.)

    Upon reflection, I feel that I should reassess and expand the range of my restaurant sessions. To this end, I assigned some homework to my student (Luke) and I saw the same disappointed face and heard the same sighs that I have previously encountered in the classroom. No surprise there, but hey, if this is graduate school, there must be some serious work for the student, right? The assignment was geared to Luke himself so it must be more interesting to him than reading some musty old history book or to memorizing lists of boring materials that will be of no use later on in life. After all, do you think that I am going to continue to levitate his damn airplane from the swamp? Hell no, I am getting old. Maybe when he is nine hundred years old understanding will he be of such matters. Humph! So says Obi-Wan.

    Posted Dec 22 2008, 06:50 PM by Sam Post with no comments
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  • Time To Get Stressed For The Holidays

    All of us know about stress, or at least we think we know about it. Well, at least we know the word and that it is a bad thing, and we know that we don't want it. It seems that the holiday season brings on much more stress than at other times. It is an enigma that the holidays, supposedly a time of happy things and good cheer, bring with them the horrible specter of stress in many forms. It appears to be a cruel joke played on all of us when we are trying to have a good time.

    Looking at the beast itself, stress is usually an ugly thing. Of course, we could look at stress from other points of view, such as that stress is really a good thing and that we are just misinterpreting it at our peril. Or, we could say that stress is the energy that accompanies the festivities at holiday time and that it is an inevitable part of all holidays. As such, the holidays would not be "the holidays" without it. Or, we could view stress as the motivating factor of an event that causes us to have a good time in spite of ourselves. Maybe stress occurs because we are fighting the body's desire to have a good time. Thus we thwart the merriment that we feel inside and this internal fight causes the stress that we feel. Indeed, stress comes in many forms and for many different reasons. Two people can go to an event, one hates it and the other loves it. How could both people be accurate? We know about this dichotomy of views and yet we cannot seem to come to a rational meeting of the minds.

    There is a very good definition of stress that will satisfy all situations. For the answer we turn to that erudite scholar, Dr. Richard F. Marsella, a leading authority on the subject of stress. In his groundbreaking book, Welcome To Stress Management, the good doctor points out that stress is best defined as "...any event or situation that interferes with our internal equilibrium". (Marsella, 1999)  This simple description amply tells us that stress is a matter of our response to any given situation, ugly or pleasant. The holidays are supposed to be pleasant, but we may feel the change in our body and assume that it is a bad feeling that we are supposed to have. It is just like a dog wagging his tail. Do you think that a wagging tail means that the dog is happy and that he will not bite you? Wrong. A wagging tail on a dog tells you that he is excited, or interested. Now, he could be interested in having you pet him or he could be interested in biting you. The wagging tail does not differentiate; it is simply a physical phenomenon. Stress can be like that, too. Stress in a situation is a signal that something has changed. It could signal danger or it could signal merriment; how can we know the difference?

    The simple answer is: experience (or education). When we are young we may be afraid of thunder and lightning. We experience extreme fear (or stress) during a thunderstorm. Later on, when we have learned (by experience or education) that the weather patterns produce thunder and lightning as part of normal physical happenings, we become unafraid. The stress goes away. The thunder and lightning stayed the same, you are the same person, you get wet just like you did when you were young, the stress should also be the same - but it isn't. We have learned to be unstressed by these weather patterns. In like manner, most situations in life that are connected with stress can be un-stressed. All that is needed is the help of a therapist who specializes in stress management, like the emanate Dr. Marsella. A renowned psychologist, educated in the finest New York Universities, Dr. Marsella's practice spans three and a half decades. His success rate with clients is awesome and totally unique! (He told me to say that.) Stress is with us always but there is a way to manage it so that we can lead happy lives. So says Sam Post.

    Posted Dec 15 2008, 08:48 PM by Sam Post with no comments
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  • Music Is For The Soul

    Many years ago a good friend of mine, and a fine musician, said to me, "Your profession cures the mind (I am a psychologist), my profession cures the body (she is a nurse), and music cures the soul (we are both musicians)." The longer I consider this statement the more profound it becomes. It is easy to see that the medical profession cures the body; it is a hands-on type of endeavor. It is somewhat more difficult to see the results of the psychologist's work, unless you know how to look for them. It is downright confusing to think of music as a healing art; we think of music as a pastime or hobby. Nonetheless, music is one of the most effective healers. We don't realize this fact because music is everywhere. We tend to ignore it.

    This past weekend the winter festival in Tallahassee signaled the start of the - winter festival. There was enough food to feed three starving countries. And there was music, real music from real people. There were singers and dancers from many different areas, mostly young people in demure costumes and smiling faces. But there were bands too. Rock, country, country-rock, and a genuine Dixieland band complete with straw hats and striped shirts. I have not seen a Dixieland band in decades; it was fun to listen and to watch these real musicians perform. I say "real" because the young people these days listen to canned music more than to anything else. They don't realize what goes into learning and performing music on stage. Great respect should be accorded to all performers for the years of dedication to learning, not only of their instruments, but also to the stage presence that must be demonstrated in front of a live audience. It isn't easy.

    When you listen to a live band, especially a good one, you can feel the energy coming over the footlights. There is a tacit connection between the performer and the listener; it is a form of communication that cannot be experienced in any other way. You can't get this feeling by listening to canned music. When we communicate in this way we become one; it is like saying, "I understand you and we are together on this". The warm and/or exciting feelings that are exchanged bring comfort to both entertainer and entertained. It is a meeting of souls and the communion is healing in many different ways. Sometimes we need to feel that we are not alone; sometimes we just need to hear a friendly voice; sometimes we want to celebrate with others. Live music can provide all of these things and a great deal more. When we need something from other people, music is one very effective way to get it; and there is never any judgment or rejection involved. In the field of psychology we use music all the time to probe a person's unconscious or to elicit feelings that may be difficult to express cognitively. Music truly is a healing art. So says Sam Post.

    Posted Dec 09 2008, 07:55 PM by Sam Post with 1 comment(s)
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  • Turkey Day, 2008

    Well, we got through another holiday. I hope that everyone enjoyed their day, met with family and friends, and that they stuffed themselves with copious amounts of bird. Did anyone ever question why we celebrate Thanksgiving on the last Thursday of November? I always thought that the Pilgrims, back in 16-whatever, gave thanks on Thursday in November and that we have been doing it ever since. I was surprised to learn that it was Abraham Lincoln who declared that the last Thursday in November would be the national holiday forever and ever. Way to go, Abe. (yeh)

    The ghost met with a room full of folks on Thursday afternoon. It was a “bring a dish” affair and there were many dishes. As with all such affairs there were a few smokers and a high noise level. Both of these things ruin the meal of whoever is still eating. Oh well, you can’t have everything. The food was great and everyone was jolly. Next day (Friday) we met with family at the Cracker Barrel for breakfast. We had to wait one hour to get the food and the noise level was deafening. The acoustics in the place are such that every sound is heard and with the place packed, you can’t hear yourself think. Why do people desire to go to a restaurant where the noise level is so high and the service is so slow? That’s right, it wasn’t my idea to choose this place. There were six of us seated at the table and I was only able to converse with the one person sitting across from me.  The stress levels, created by all the noise, confusion, and hunger from waiting an hour, made everyone irritable, especially those who might be hypoglycemic. The food tasted okay but it was not hot. The waitress was great; she was the only “bright spot” in an otherwise chaotic affair.

    Friday evening, when it was time to dine, I suggested that we eat at Jimmy’s located in St. Marks. This restaurant is superb in every way. First, it is extremely quiet. This atmosphere is conducive to dining, rather than sidling up to the trough at loud, chaotic places. Second, the food is great, and it is prepared exactly as requested. Anyone who has had the experience of dining out with the Ghost knows that he tolerates no nonsense when it comes to the fare that he will consume. Life is too short to eat fodder. Third, the service is unsurpassed. All the servers and cooks seem genuinely concerned that your meal reaches your standards. After the food is served (we were eating five minutes after arriving) the cook who prepared the meal will visit the table to ascertain that everyone is satisfied. If there is anything out of place, the dish is taken back to the kitchen and remade. I have never had a bad experience at Jimmy’s; it has always been exemplary. Let me mention one final note on this wonderful eating establishment. One normally finishes a meal with coffee. For those who enjoy milk with the coffee, this restaurant provides creamers – not milk. Whenever I have dined there, I request milk, not creamer, with my coffee and the waitress always explains that they have only creamers. When I explain that the Ghost will only have milk, the management has always gone to a neighboring store to bring back a small portion of the white nectar for the coffee. Now that’s service!

    Whether the dining experience occurs on a holiday or not, the Ghost highly recommends Jimmy’s in St. Marks as a restaurant of the highest quality in fare, atmosphere, and service. So says Sam Post.

    Posted Dec 02 2008, 06:17 PM by Sam Post with no comments
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