“The best I ever had? That’s tough.”
“Come on. I’m sure you’ve had plenty.”
“Well, I’ve certainly had more than my share. But picking the best, that’s not easy.”
“Okay, how about you pick the best ‘aha’ moment? You know, a time when the light went on and the world lined up just right.”
“I haven’t had many of those, but there’s one that stands out.”
“Come on. Let’s hear it.”
“I was sitting naked in one of the hot tubs at Esalen, looking out at the Pacific Ocean after a blissful massage, and suddenly realized my life was crap.”
“What? That was a peak moment?”
“Well, not in a kumbaya way. But, right then I knew I needed to feel more like I did in that moment. My life, which looked good enough on the outside, wasn’t going the way I’d hoped it would.”
“Yeah. I know that feeling.”
“So what about you? What’s the best therapy–kumbaya–‘aha’ moment you’ve ever had?”
I was kind of curious to hear it for myself. Eavesdropping on these women while they stood in the reception line, I hadn’t been surprised by what the first had said. We can all relate in some way. Maybe not in the naked-Esalen-tub way, but in the way of our lives not being all we’d like them to be. Sometimes it becomes abundantly clear that if we don’t do something, nothing is going to change. That realization is terrifying, liberating, empowering, and life-altering all at once.
So, yeah, I was curious what her friend had to say.
“I’m gonna go another way. I can relate to the realization that your life needs some upgrading, but the moment I’m thinking about is when I was lost in bliss.”
“You know that moment right after you have a really good climax and all the tension leaves your body and you feel light and carefree?”
“Boy, do I. I wouldn’t mind some more of that this week.”
“I’m with you on that.”
“I was in the midst of one of those glorious moments. I had nothing to do but languish in it. It was serene. I was lost in space, just floating aimlessly with no cares, when I heard my husband yell out from downstairs, ‘Where the hell is dinner?’”
“What? No, you’re kidding.”
“Bless the man. I knew right then and there I couldn’t live with him another day. That was one of the best days of my life, right there.”
I don’t know if it was one of her husband’s best days, but maybe. If that relationship wasn’t right for her, it wasn’t right for him. But that’s easy for me to say as I didn’t have to go through that upheaval.
I was enjoying listening to these women swap stories about impactful moments in their lives. I suppose this was as good a place as any to be having those discussions. We were checking in to the American Association of Humanistic Psychology’s 1983 annual conference in Santa Barbara, California. Most of the attendees were therapists, graduate students, or educators, here for a ten-day conference dedicated to learning and experiencing the latest theories and practices.
It wasn’t long ago that I’d been to the Annual Conference of Sex Therapists and Surrogates and got caught up in a murder mystery. I’d stood in that reception line and overheard a couple of women talking about the best sex of their lives. Soon thereafter, the keynote speaker had been kidnapped, then murdered. I got swept up in the action—it was a sex conference, after all—and ended up solving the mystery. Here I was, back in the reception line of another annual conference, overhearing two women talk about peak therapeutic experiences.