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We’re “only” human?

group of people

We’re only human

As some of you will know, I have had the privilege this summer of travelling to Sydney, Australia to attend the ITAA World TA Conference, completing my TSTA exam, and presenting a workshop at the conference. OK, I hear you say, here it comes, the ego trip, the jet setting lifestyle, the name dropping… Well, perhaps. The travelling was exciting, but a very very very long way, and the jet lag was almost crippling. There was one particularly spectacular dinner in the revolving restaurant at the top of the Sydney Tower, with a view to die for and prices to faint over. And there was, I have to confess, a spot of shoulder rubbing, and indeed dancing, with the great and the good, the fabled and famous of our TA world (but more of that later..).

In fact my most profound experiences in Sydney centred on people; real people, genuine caring human beings, bimbling and bumbling through life, enjoying occasional transcendent and sparkling moments, but mostly simply being real, and honest and ….. human. I was there, a long way from home, taking the biggest and most daunting exam of my entire professional career, and found myself surrounded by a group of TA people from across the globe who offered me enthusiasm, encouragement, sleep medication, herbal remedies and aromatherapy oils as the need arose, and then celebrated my successes with delight and joy, as I did theirs. Bonds of friendship and human kindness were shared across continents, as we recognised our common love for TA, our commitment to being honest, and, as one particular subgroup became known, our dedication to being “irreverent, rude and rather strange”!

So, (here comes the name dropping part), there I was, wandering about in the conference melee with my cup of tea and blueberry tartlet as you do, when I found myself being introduced to a smallish, quiet man, with deep set and steady eyes, from whom emanated a sense of warmth and peace and, I think, what the Bhuddists would call “loving kindness”. I was so impacted by his quiet presence that I almost missed his name – Ken Mellor. Yes, THE Ken Mellor of discount matrix, Impasse diagrams etc etc. In our brief conversation that followed, I found my star struck reaction being gently eroded by the simplicity of this man, his soft Australian/American accent and teasing humour – his humanness – and we met. A man who walks his talk.

And there were others, the published, the critiqued, the often referenced, knowledgable and long experienced in their fields of training and educating, some of whom who did perhaps maintain their lofty circles high above the reach of us mere mortals, but others who literally “got down and boogied”, and indeed talked and listened long into the night over the odd soothing beverage, sharing ideas and experiences and reflecting on the curiosities of the TA world and the psychotherapy world at large.

I have often muttered and grumbled about the process of disillusionment that takes place when we meet our TA heroes, when those great life changing articles don’t quite seem to be being lived out in the authors we meet, and I am sure I will do so again. My Australian experience largely took the opposite turn; I saw the true values and principles of TA being lived and embodied in those of us who have not (yet) published articles and tomes of great meaning, and in some of those who have offered us their insights on the page. I saw humans being human with each other; I was touched and transformed by many of these people through their humanity, and I hope I offered some of mine to them. There’s no “only” about being human.

Barbara Clarkson TSTA     17th August 2015


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