Sunday, October 07, 2007

Amy The Overthinker

I had a job interview this week. It was to be the assistant to a Life Coach, let’s see, what to call him, what to call him, gosh, I hope I’m not giving anything away but let’s call him Mr. Crazypants.

There are certain stereotypes that anyone who doesn’t live in California thinks people from California are like. People in California are WEIRD, they’re New Agey, they shop at that Whole Foods place, they do yoga, they carry around small dogs, they talk about their feelings far too much and far too freely. They have wackadoo theories about plastic containers. Mr. Crazypants was mostly all of that, except for the New Agey part (He’s a Jew from New York.) And the yoga part (he’s got a bad knee, he can’t bend down, he makes you pick up everything that falls on the floor.) And the talking about his feelings far too freely part (he’s all about analyzing YOUR feelings.) But he did have a small dog, a three and a half pound Maltese named, uh, Mr. Crazypants Cute Dog. And he shops at Whole Foods. And refuses to use plastic containers.

I knew even before meeting Mr. Crazypants at the Whole Foods in Pasadena (which he later changed to the Westin Hotel, RUH ROH!) that I didn’t really want this job. An assistant to a Life Coach? How is this going to advance my screenwriting career, except as possibly a B storyline in a TV spec I write someday? But I also recognized that I needed to go through with the interview in order to not make the person who recommended me for the job look bad. Because I like her, I want to remain professionally friendly with her. She might give me a job someday. And she’s not crazy.

And I don’t think that God is steering me towards this job because he wants me to be the proverbial salt and light to Mr. Crazypants. I think God’s probably sitting on the couch with the bag o’ popcorn, munching away and elbowing the angels, “Check it, Mr. Crazypants just asked her to get in his car at the Westin Hotel. Gosh, I sure hope she represents herself in a way that reflects My glory.”

The interview turned into an eight hour day riding around Pasadena with Mr. Crazypants, holding Mr. Crazypants Cute Dog while he looked at places to live, listening in on phone conversations he had in the car with people who were designing promotional material for him, listening to his side of phone coaching sessions he was having with clients, trying very hard not to laugh as he sang to the dog, “My dooooooooogie loves his weeeeeeeeeeeenie!”

But part of the time was Mr. Crazypants taking me through the initial steps of a Life Coaching session. He did a shitload of intentional leading, where he would say things like, “I’m about to give you a profound piece of advice” and “I’m psychic, you know.” (Why he didn’t sense that I had no intention of taking the job, I don’t know. Maybe he thought he could change my mind with the profound piece of advice.)

The profound piece of advice was my Word. Everyone he coaches has a Word, and your relationship to your Word is what you will deal with, either successfully, or unsuccessfully through your life. Other peoples Words have been Recognition, Respect, Selling, etc.

My Word is Understanding, and Mr. Crazypants says that a large part of pain in my past has stemmed from people not understanding me, and that I spend a lot of my life trying to make sense of the world, and making sure people understand me. Well, um, yeah, most writers are misunderstood, and write to make sense of the world as they see it, thanks.

“Your needing to Understand is you pushing Understanding away,” Mr. Crazypants says, “It’s going to be very hard for you to find a man who navigates as freely as you do,” Wha-huh? “Promise me that if we never see each other again, that you won’t settle in a relationship, that you won’t lower your standards. You are better off being alone for the rest of your life. I know this makes you sad. But it’s better for you to be alone than for you to be alone in the relationship. Because that’s what it’s felt like for you, hasn’t it?”

And I would dismiss most of this as Standard Advice For Chicks except that he drops a paper napkin on the floor, hands me a putter and some golf balls, and tells me to land the golf ball on the napkin. He asks me to grade my shots on a scale of 1 to 10, and since the first shot is way long (Sorry Dad. Never was much of a golfer), I gave myself a 2. The correct answer, if any of you ever have to do the Golf Exercise in front of a Life Coach, is that the first shot is always a 10, because it’s the FIRST shot. “You’re so judgmental,” he says, though technically, he asked me to judge myself, “You’re so lovely to everyone else and such a dick to yourself.”

Oh, I wish I could direct him to this entry, and the Grace and Truth scale, and how I’m forever stuck on the Truth side, because I don’t understand the concept of grace for myself. But in Mr. Crazypants’ world, any answer longer than five words is me falling into the Understanding trap, of me needing to explain myself, when apparently he already knows everything there is to know about me.

We go a couple more rounds with the golf balls, where I get closer, but never quite on the napkin, and Mr. Crazypants says I’m an Overthinker on top of being an Understander, and I need to focus on the process, not on the goal. “Be in the moment,” he says, as Mr. Crazypants Cute Dog humps a stuffed animal in the corner. “How do you do that?” I say, carefully counting my words to make sure it’s not too many. “Let go of the questions,” Mr. Crazypants says.

Ah yes, Let Go. One of my favorite platitudes of all time. Mr. Crazypants isn’t telling me anything I don’t know already, but I still don’t know how to put into practice. And he won’t tell me, because I guess the answers would come if I either had $15,000 to complete the course, or if I agreed to work for him. Neither of which I’m doing.

But the Overthinker/Understander thing bugs. Where’s the line between Thinking and Overthinking? I mean, obviously we have to think about things, right? I have to think in order to fill in the details on my outline. I have to think of solutions to plot holes in my other outline. I have to figure out how to juggle two temp agencies where I can chart a course in steady employment without missing out on any cool assignments because I took the other assignment first.

Ah hell. This is ALL Overthinking, isn’t it. What would life be like if I didn’t think so much? Um, I think I’d be drunk. Like, all the time. Hmmmm, I wonder if that’s a feasible option. What shape is my liver in these days? If I haven’t been drinking in awhile, do the bad parts of my liver rebound?




Allison said...

Gasp! Was that a dig at TV?! Just kidding... if nothing else, you got a really funny story for your blog.

I don't think there is such a thing as overthinking. I think that's what inarticulate people call thinking without acting. (Wow, that was really harsh... you're beginning to rub off on me.) :)

Although the thing about being alone vs. being alone in a relationship is pretty cool. I'll have to think about that some more...

Richard said...

I think the dif between overthinking and merely thinking is sort of like the acting process. You do a lot of work so that you can step back and STOP and assume that all the work you did is in your unconscious brain and will come out, needless of being conscious of it. Sort of like typing. You don't need to think e-a-c-h l-e-t-t-e-r as you type anymore because you did the work before.

Also: this (wonderful) story reminds me of the time I was on the street in New York and a life-coach -type guru came up to me and a friend started talking about how he was psychic and could tell I was an actor but needed an outlet, etc. When he left my friend was amazed. "How did he KNOW??". I pointed out that a) I was wearing a button with the image of Shakespeare on it, and b) I'm an actor--we ALL need an outlet. Part of the job description!

Oy. At least this guy didn't have a stuffed-animal humping dog with him....