Friday, October 14


I'm POSTING! A full time job, long distance relationship, and full time load of grad school classes has left me pretty drained... but I finally have something I really want to share. Its SORT of counseling/psychology related, but it applies to everyone, so keep reading. Oh, and a life update may be coming soon... I hope.

Gestalt was originally a German word roughly akin to 'shape' or 'form'. Its English meaning is generally one of unity or holism... that's to say the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This is one of the most fascinating and beautiful concepts I've encountered since starting grad school.

The Gestalt Prayer was written by Fritz Perls, founder of Gestalt Therapy (not to be confused with Gestalt Theoretical Psychotherapy and definitely not with Gestalt psychology).

The Gestalt Prayer
I do my thing and you do your thing.
I am not in this world to live up to your expectations,
And you are not in this world to live up to mine.
You are you, and I am I, and if by chance we find each other, it's beautiful.
If not, it can't be helped.
(Fritz Perls, 1969)

Taken on its own instead of being interpreted through the lens of Gestalt Therapy (which is tough for me after learning all about the therapy in class) it's quite a confident message of emotional independence, of sorting your own 'thing' out before getting tangled up with someone else.

Walter Tubbs published a poem called Beyond Perls in response. Apparently its quoted in The Road Less Travelled... clearly it was famous in its own rite. The 'I and Thou' line is a reference to Martin Buber (a philosopher) and its said Professor Tubbs was weaving other thinkers into this as well. Even so, you can understand it without a psychology background or knowledge of counseling theory... and its lovely.

Beyond Perls
If I just do my thing and you do yours,
We stand in danger of losing each other
And ourselves.

I am not in this world to live up to your expectations;
But I am in this world to confirm you
As a unique human being,
And to be confirmed by you.

We are fully ourselves only in relation to each other;
The I detached from a Thou

I do not find you by chance;
I find you by an active life
Of reaching out.

Rather than passively letting things happen to me,
I can act intentionally to make them happen.

I must begin with myself, true;
But I must not end with myself:
The truth begins with two.
(Walter Tubbs, 1972)

I'm more fond of Perls prayer, though both have striking points. Which do you prefer?