Almost Without Notice


Last month’s (07/14/14) Post on my blog, Contemplations, marked the end of my first year of blogging for this site. My first year as a blogger passed almost without notice until I realized that with “The Edge of Existence”, the number of blogs had totaled to twelve. Consequently, I’ve been racking my brain over what to write to inaugurate my second year of blogging for Contemplations. Only a few months ago, I changed the subtitle of my blog from, The Center for Existential Psychotherapy to The Art and Skill of Living. Since I altered the name of the blog, I’ve been pondering what the change means as far as any new directions the blog might take. Thus far, I haven’t come to any concrete decisions. So! I thought I would kick-off my second year of blogging by doing just that, pondering. Well, not exactly, but elaborate a bit more about what the future might hold for this blog. I thought at first, I would entitle my blog, “What the Future Holds.” But such a title sounds rather presumptuous. And, quite frankly, I don’t know what the future holds. The title sounds like some kind of prophecy. So here I sit, pondering the directions this blog might travel, so forgive my meandering thoughts as I talk about some of the things I think I might want to do over the next year. Of course, tomorrow is another day. (Anybody know that movie? Hint: Vivian Lee.)

Life Outside of Therapy

The first thing to probably logically consider is the change of subtitle to, The Art and Skill of Living. The major change the subtitle brings to this blog is that it takes the website out of a therapy setting, and broadens its scope for topics by placing it beneath a larger umbrella. One of the reasons that I think this happened in my thinking is that my life has now moved into what the University I work for designates as, “Phased Retirement”. I’m blessed and fortunate, at this time, to be in a position that I have more options available to me than the workaday world of academia, teaching, and a part-time private practice. There are other things in which I’m interested. One thing that this time of my life has done for me is present itself with the excitement of new avenues to explore, skills to develop, and opportunities of which to take advantage. Another thing that this phase of life has shown me is how over the years, I’ve rather compartmentalized my life around my career, believing that my focus, interests, and desires should be thrown totally in my work as a professor and a part-time counselor. Something inside me always raised its antennae at times, telling me I really didn’t want to live like that. But now I realize how much my life has revolved around teaching, therapy, and ideas associated with that world. I’m thankful for the choices I made toward a career, realizing decades ago that I wanted to teach at the university level. It has been a good life, and the world of counseling will always be with me on some level. But there are other roads out there. I’m ready to get my motor running and head out on the highway. (Anybody know that song? Hint: Hermann Hesse.)

The World of Ideas

One of the reasons I wanted to teach at the university level is that for a number of years, the world of ideas has always drawn my interests. I thought that being in a university would be the perfect setting to explore ideas around people interested in the same thing. Much of that is true; some of it, however, unfortunately, is not. The university has its bureaucracies and hierarchy like any other institution. And requirements like publishing articles, training counseling students, staying on top of info so that it doesn’t become dated and stale, are just part of the work. And teaching in a graduate counseling program, almost by necessity, frames the ideas with which I would be, for the most part, involved. I also realize that, like any setting, one has to make of it what one can, and not let it dictate one’s life totally. Sometimes I was good at that; other times, not. But over the years, I was able to read from other fields besides counseling, and the therapeutic world lends itself to the exploration of the history of thought and philosophy. Having obtained a master’s degree in literature, I kept one foot in that field as well. But now, I have open before me the possibility of exploring various fields, writings, endeavors, and ideas. I am particularly interested in how ideas impact people in a way that places them on their paths of living. What are the ideas that people live by? What ideas do people hold with passion? How do people draw on their life experiences and beliefs to make decisions, minor and major, for their lives? These are some of the avenues that I envision as a possibility for exploration in my life, and hopefully, to some extent on the blog for my readers. I strongly believe the old adage, “Ideas have Consequences.” So I hope to expand the doors of my perception and see where the road takes me. (Doors of Perception: Anybody know the poet from whom that came? Hint: It’s not Jim Morrison or Aldus Huxley.)


One of my favorite writers is the old anarchist, Albert Jay Nock. I have definitely more than leaned toward anarchism the last few years. (Shhhhh! Don’t tell anyone.) But Nock wrote an autobiography that he called, Memoirs of a Superfluous Man. Speaking about the world of ideas and how they influence one’s living, I have to say that Nock’s work is one of the most enjoyable reads I have ever undertaken. There are many battles I have fought over the years, with other people and inside myself. These conflicts have various battlegrounds – academia, church settings, political discussions, conversations about the arts, and more. The road I’m on now, and one on which I hope to stay the course, is away from, letting go, unhooking from – however one may want to characterize it – those battles and chiefly the traps into which I tended to fall regarding them. It’s not that I don’t think that the ideas associated with and the content that formed those conflicts are unimportant. On the contrary. But sometimes the fighting, both external and internal, took my eye off simply living my life out the way I want to. So I have decided along with Nock, to live superfluously. That means, in other words, living my life regardless of how others might frame, interpret, critique, or moralize about it. Such a letting-go process is not easy. And it’s a process that I’ve been engaged with for a number of years now. So it’s becoming easier. In all the arenas I mentioned, I believe we are at a crisis moment. Quite frankly, I think we’re in for some dark times ahead of us. And I think we’re all going to have to find our way of relating to those with whom we disagree, and carving our paths regardless of how others might view us. That’s never an easy task, but one I think life calls us to do. I would get into what I mean by “dark times”, but such prognostication would take the blog off track and spoil its otherwise lightheartedness. So for now, no reason to get excited. (Anybody know the song that line came from? Hint: Jimi Hendrix did not write the song.)

The Arts

I don’t consider myself an artist. I wish I could on rather a selfish note. A couple of years ago, I self-published, under the name, V. Jones,  a book of short stories called, Echoes. No one is knocking down the door to get to it. But that’s okay. I hope this fall, speaking of new avenues, to publish a book of poetry. Nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoy the arts – cinema, literature, music, painting, photography, and all that one can experience. So one of the roads I want to take, given the new time I have on my hands, is the exploration of the arts, perhaps reaching for amateur-status in an area, and writing about ideas behind the creativity that artists experience. Several of my blogs have already covered topics of authors who have impacted me, books that have shaped my worldview, and reviews of books I think are important reads right now. I want to continue those endeavors, and open up possibilities for me there as well. By the way, regarding my forthcoming poetry, I stumbled across an interesting quote from a great poet that gives me some hope: “Minor poets emulate; great poets steal.” Nothing wrong with aspiring to greatness. (Anybody know which poet said that? Hint: He wrote a poem that was a famous Lovesong.)


Everyone who retires says, “I want to travel more.” Well, I want to travel more. It’s not that academia didn’t afford me the time and support to travel to workshops, conferences, and more. I’ve visited from Palm Springs, CA to Cape Cod, and places in between, lived in the Midwest for five years, and had a seventeen-day stay in Italy and Sicily. But there’s more I want to do. And on top of that, I want to write about it, of course. Visiting and learning about new places is always an exciting way to broaden one’s perspective, for sure. There are trips I would love to do that make up my bucket list, such as, The Cross-Continental Train Ride across Canada, a visit to the Painted Desert, Petrified Forest, and Grand Canyon. So bucket lists are definitely part of this phase of life. I’ve spent many years living in the world of ideas. And the one thing I don’t want to happen is to live life in an abstraction. The concrete highway is where I want to feel my feet. So I’m looking forward to this phase of life I’ve entered, all that it will bring, and how any of that might show up on this blog. So I’m going to get my motor running. (I’ve come full circle, and back to that one. Anybody figure it out yet?)  Full circle means it’s time to conclude this essay.


Not bad, for a meandering essay, when I had no idea what this month’s blog would be about. Call it an accidental celebration of a year anniversary. But I hope readers who cross its page will find food for thought, but more than anything, find some enjoyment, and a few chuckles as well. Here’s to the second year of blogging. (And that’s not from a poem, a song, nor a movie.)

John V. Jones, Jr, Ph.D., LPC-S /August 14, 2014

General Essay