This past summer, I was at Coney Island with my kids.  After riding various roller coasters, my kids spent their remaining time playing skee ball, a game where you roll a ball up a ramp and into open holes on a board to earn points.  There was an older teenager with a physical disability playing next to them. He would throw the round wooden ball down the ramp and it would hit the gate in front of the board and come rolling back to him.  Sometimes the ball would bounce down the ramp and land in the next lane.  If he was lucky, he would get it past the gate and into the gutter.  My kids and their cousins played beside him.  Having played this game before, they were able to roll their ball smoothly down the ramp and into the holes earning 1,000, 2,000, 4,000, 5,000 or even at times 10,000 points.  As their tickets came out of the machine, I watched the young man struggling with the wooden balls but not giving up.  Seeing my kids get the ball into the holes made him want to try again.  He continued to try and I gently told him about rolling the ball easily up the ramp, not wanting to impose too much but also wanting him to get a little assistance.  He continued to roll his balls clumsily up the ramp.  Often it went into the gutter but at times he made it into the 1,000 or 2,000 point hole.  “Hurray!”  I cheered as he rolled his ball up that ramp, earning some points.  He didn’t get any tickets but this didn’t stop him.  He continued swiping his game credit card in the skee ball machine and another set of balls would roll down for him to play again.  Meanwhile, my kids and their cousins picked out their small stuffed prizes and I kept thinking about that young man.  He hadn’t earned any tickets yet but continued to try even as we were leaving.  As we walked away my daughter whispered quietly to me,  “Did you see? That guy is improving.”  I smiled at her recognition of his improvement and felt happy that she could notice the positive that occurred as he continued to try.  I found that young man to be an inspiration.  He pulled my heartstrings and I was rooting for him.  I thought of him as we walked away and sent a blessing of love and light to be with him on his journey.

As I sit here thinking about how to describe my work as a therapist, I thought of this inspiring young gentleman.  We as humans, all have strengths and weaknesses. Some we were born with, some we have developed along the way.  There is no shame in having weaknesses.  This young man reminded me of that.  It doesn’t stop us from playing the “game.”  We can each continue playing the game and keep trying to get better or decide to give up.  This young man kept playing.  His desire to not give up became the best part of my day.  It is difficult to describe what I do as a psychotherapist because each individual is so different.  I try to see beyond a person’s current situation and root them on to keep playing the game, rooting for them and giving them gentle assistance along the way.  I know on some level they are gaining something of value from their own personal challenges.  I am inspired by their courage, tenacity, and beauty of their soul.  On some level, I know that whatever they are going through is causing them to learn and grow.  As a psychotherapist, I try to uncover with my client what the learning might be and together discover what would be of most assistance for their current life circumstance.

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