Harvey Gerry

 Harvey Gerry

HRD 605

Jack Flanagan

May 9, 1989

I interviewed Harvey in his home and the evening of April 27,1989. He was basically in good spirits. Harvey is currently involved in a marriage and career crisis and a geographic relocation, that have obviously precipitated a huge amount of thought and life reevaluation. Although it has obviously been very painful, he seems to have recognized a great deal of growth in himself as a result, he appears to be physically heathy, intelligent, and although very stressed, basically emotionally responsive and alive.

He seems to view his entry into adulthood, which he defines as the point where he was no longer sheltered from stress, conflict with tough people, and serious consequences for lack of performance, and his current situation as two cornerstones in his life. He organizes his thoughts of the past around one, and his hopes for the future around the other.

Jack: Let’s start by you saying whatever you’d like to about your life; whatever you’ve thought about while waiting to do this.

Harvey: Let me characterize it this way and let me give you some quick facts. I have one sister who is seven years younger. My mother and father were marvelous people; I never heard them fight a day in their life and I know that they loved me. Although my mother’s a Quaker lady and she does not show emotion and think that everything should be pretty and nice. And my father was a wonderful man, but he was away so many of my young years that he never was a mentor. I’ve come to realize that that sort of a parental coaching voice was missing from the chorus that I hear.

Jack: We have that in common…

Harvey: I’m married, my wife’s name is Suzanne; she’s a high school English teacher for the last 15 or 20 years. We have three children. Umm…our oldest came out of Purdue, went in the Peace Corps for two years in Western Samoa, and wanted to be in the Navy…he has the wanderlust. So he was in the Navy for two years and now is married and we have a granddaughter. He went to the Harvard School of Education, got a ~aster’s degree, and now works in the education field. Our youngest son, John, was a very happy child; we were sort of relaxed when he came along, so we had a very nice relationship with John. He did a lot of athletics and went to a small college in Iowa. He has a girl friend, he’s not married. He’s a Ph.D. candidate a~ Harvard in the area of archeology, and he’s not sure now whether he really love’s the field enough to finish.

So, our two sons are in good shape. Our daughter, Sally, and I’ll get to this, has learning disabilities; she’s not very intelligent. She’s been a terrible worry I mean we’ve been terribly worried about her all her life. She had a terrible struggle with school, and that really tortured our marriage.

But, going back to childhood, my father worked in an American bank. He’d been with the State Department, and then went to work for an American bank in 1928 or 29. He moved to France with my mother and I was born in France, in 1931, After living in the Riviera for a couple of years…the bank he worked for ~a~ a branch there and this was after the Depression…they pulled in their horns and we move~ to Paris. And I grew up in Paris until I was 7 or 8, which is when the war broke out.

I have now figured out that the first school that I went to, which was a French school, must have been a very disastrous experience for me. The second school I w~r to was an American school, and that was a wonderful experience because I fell in love with my second grade teacher. Who happens to live right here in Maine. And years later, it turns out that she was married to a man who I had as a speech teacher in high school. So the romance continued. So I think that actually she was important in my life because she was a vivacious, Mary Martin type of person, and she formed my idea of the romantic feminine kind of person.

At any rate, in the summer of 1939, when my sister was just a baby (she’s seven years younger than I am), my mother and I were at a seaside resort in France. The False War was on then…we didn’t know if the German troops were going to march or anything like that, we thought that it was going to subside. And all of a sudden, we had to flee from France, so we got on a Channel steamer and went to England. My father joined us there.

We stayed there about three of four months, I actually went to school there. So that WAS the third grade year of my life. That fall…I mean it was pretty well chopped up… my mother and I, in October.(and my sister) crowded onto an American ship which had big flags painted on its sides, and lights showing it was not a British ship, because war had been declared. We had been in England in a lot of air‑raid drills and actual air raids…I never heard any bombs fall, but we had gas masks. But to me it was all exciting…a big adventure. You couldn’t possibly get hurt.

But again, my father was gone much of the time; I mean he was there part of the time, but essentially I was the man of the house. But my mother made very few demands on me. So ~ never had any confrontations with my father, my mother or my sister, because she was so much younger than I was.. So there was no turmoil or tension in the home. I was very loyal, a good kid.

We came to Washington, D.C. and lived with my mother’s sister there. And I went ~ kind of a tough school and I learned how to be an American kid as fast as I could. Shed all of my European clothes, refused to say a word of French… was very embarrassed about that. Tried to play baseball…I didn’t know what a bat WAS . ‑ All of these things, even though in subsequent years I was what you might say very successful, I always had an insecurity and wondered about my belonging and my place in the situation. And I think that one of the coping skills that I developed, encouraged by the fact that my mother was a very charming woman and my father was a very charming man, was ‘just to be charming; to be a nice person and deferential and polite. And there’s supposed to be a­ payoff.

And what happened was that… I was a genuinely caring person and that marketed well. I was not doing it for that reason, but in grade school and high school‑I would be elected for offices or picked for this or that, all sorts of things, without particularly trying for it. If I joined a young people’s club, I’d manage to be the president, and things like that. A lot of things came very easily to me.

I had a sweet heart in high school, it was a very passion­ ate thing but I was so damned shy. I didn’t know a thing about sex . My poor mother couldn’t bring herself to say anything about~ it. So everything I learned, I learned wrong a from other people and somehow managed to get through high school without getting in trouble. My father had finally rejoined us in the United States, and we moved to a suburb…to a nice suburb of New York called Scarsdale, New York, and that’s where I went to high school. He was there with us for awhile but then he went back…he was in the Army during the Second World War and came back with all sorts of medals, he was really quite a hero…but again he was gone for four or five years. So again, I did not have anyone to challenge me, to make me tow  the line at home.

Jack: So let me get this straight…you moved to Scarsdale during the Second World War and basically grew up there?

Harvey: Yes. And I got pretty good marks in school. I know that I was very good in math, but I had~very bad learning dis­abilities, I had dyslexia and had to be coached in reading~ I was a slow reader right on through the 7th or 8th grade. Then I started picking up confidence in myself through some of the math classes that I took, and I would do well in history and things like that.

And at that point, I certainly didn’t see myself as a business person later on. I really saw myself being a

teacher. And I was in Scouts and I was an Eagle Scout and I was a leader in the Scout troop, and I counseled countless~ boys. As my friends suffered through adoles­cence, I‑had suffered through it too and I would counsel them and help them. So there is and was at that time a strongly felt but uncrystalized or authenticated, or blessed idea of doing something like this. There was no encouragement.

I applied to one college, I knew I’d get in, I got in, and I went to Amherst College. My freshman year, I was elected president of my class. That pattern just kept on going the whole time I was there. The second year I didn’t want to be president, so I just sort of withdrew. And the third and forth year, I was elected again. I was not a brilliant student, but I was an O.K. student and I took political science.

I was pretty shy, although had I been confident enough, I could have had any number of date 3, but I was shy about it for awhile.~ The woman that I finally married, I started going around with my sophomore year, and we really hit it off. She’s a wonderful, vivacious, active person, and I was rather formal and retiring.

Ummm…at that point I was on the football team and I WAS playing on the first team and I had never done that. So that turned into a success. And another thing that was very important to me was that I was in a singing group…a barber shop singing group, and I sang well. Sang, you know, solos in plays and productions. And I even thought.~..well, had people tell me, that “you should try it for a professional career.” But again, I didn’t have the imagination to do that, to be yourself.

So, because I always wanted to be successful with the crowd, I think I went along with the crowd and came‑out of college. Didn’t have a steady girlfriend at the time because Sue and I, who I eventually married, were on the outs at that point. So, after working the nightshift in a Fischer body factory, you know, making cars for a summer, I went in the Navy in Officers Candidate School.

There again, there must have been about 800 people in my class, I was picked as one of three leaders in the class and when I was through the whole thing I got a very choice assignment. And I would say, up to t~at point in my life, without really trying to win honors or popular­ity, these things came easily. Though I was basically a shy , insecure person and not a person with a strong sense of identity, and not a person who could get angry. I was incapable of it.

All this brought me a lot of acclaim and popularity and success and things like that, but starting with the Navy I was~ moved into the adult world. So I would say that~ up through college I WAS in a childhood situation, which while it had some of its demanding moments and character building moments, was really a sheltered situation. And starting with being in the Navy, I was starting to bump heads with some pretty tough people. You get confronta­ tions and things like that and you start to realize “My God, there are things that I’m supposed to do and I can’t do it.”, and fear starts to come in.

But at that point, and I hadn’t had any relationships with women for a while and I was feeling kind of lcnely. And I got together, after coming back from a long cruise with Suzanne. And what do you know, we fell into each others arms and decided we should get married at this young age. I was suddenly assigned to work at a commun­ications set up in Naples, Italy. Which was a really plush assingment. Sue and I decided that it was time to get married at that point, and Sue came with me. We got married in Paris, where my parents were still living. Aad everything was very romantic. We honey­ mooned across Europe and pulled into Naples and lived in a sort of little nest. Right next to the water with a beautiful scene in front of us.

That was wonderful and very romantic. The ~problem was that we were really children. I think that we got married out of some need to have~some safety in our lives. We had not fully… either of us…defined our­ selves fully as grown up individuals. And so I think that we had missed that stage, and I think it caught up with us later.

Ummm…the roles that we fell into was that I was the father and nurturer and the calm person, and Sue was the emotional child. We’ve discussed this. Although she’s a very capable person, and very conscientious person. and she immediately became pregnant, so that about 9 months and two weeks after we got married, there we were in Naples, slammed right into having babies. So that really curtailed our activities so that everything that we did was with each other and, while it was marv­elous and we remember it fondly,..I wouldn’t trade it… ummm… we were not really stepping out…it was an unreal situation.

Anyway then it was time to get out of the Navy and I had given no thought to what I was going to do, let alone ever having thought about having to earn money. Even though I had been frugal and every thing like that, there was never really a money issue. I did not have an adult voice in my vocabulary saying “Harv, let’s be realistic, We have to earn some money.

So, about that time my father said, “Well, maybe you’d want to go get an MBA. And if you’d like to do it, I’d be glad to supplement the GI Bill, and gosh,if you’re going to do it you might as well shoot for the top. Why don’t you apply to the Harvard Business School?” And I bought into the whole goddamned thing without really giving it much thought, because it did fit some…if I thought about some practical considerations like how am I going to support my wife and child, what the hell am I going to do… and I don’t have the imag­ination to think that I could pursue a singing career, and at that point I had thrown that possibility away. And being a teacher,.. I wasn’t disciplined enough to to have explored that… what do you do and how do you do it and what kind of a life it is. And I had no encouragement in the modest type of teaching that I had in mind, which was high school teaching. I never dreamed that I was smart enough to teach in a college.

So I applied to the Harvard Business School and, as consistent with what had happened in the past, of course I got in. So I went there for two years and after a miserable month or so at the beginning, while I was getting back in stride, thinking that I was going to fail and flunk out (and a lot of people felt that way), it turned into quite a successful time. And a happy time in a way, because even though I was working very hard, we were amoung other people in a similar situaion and our young son wa6 growing up and Sue had good friends. So it was a happy periol. We were terribly broke, but very, very happy. It was nice.

And Sally was born, And Sally…ah, this was my second year at the business school, and Sally right from the beginning cried a lot and was a very difficult baby. We wondered if there was something deficient or wrong, but she was very cute…you know, she looked nice.

And it wasn’t until we ended up with me working for Corning Glassware, which is what I did after Harvard Business School, ummm… I was suddenly faced with a really tough situation where you were out calling on all sorts of people in business and things are very demanding. You’ve got to get things done, there’s a lot of competition and a lot of ambiguity. And there’re a lot of things, skills and toughness called for that were not natural to me.

But nevertheless, for the first five years that I was with Corning, I got some of the biggest sales jobs that were there, and I got to run a factory and it was very successful…what I am trying to say, Jack, is that I think for quite a long time a lot of breaks came my way.

However this did start to put a strain on us, because I had to travel quite a bit, you know. When you’re working you just must go, and Sue had never imagined that I would be away so much. And she Was quite dependent on me in some ways, and resented it bitterly when I would go away. And there was nothing that I could do, I had to go~ And I was the one that always called and came back the soonest, and everything like that.

So I thought that I was doing heroic things to be loyal to our relationship and be around. I ended up spending all of my time either working desperately to get the work done fast, and it was very challenging and difficult work and other people found it so too, OR spending time completely dedicated to my family. There was nothing that I did on my own. With one exception.,.I was in a musical one time. And my wife really encouraged me to do that because she knew I enjoyed doing it. And I had the lead part, as Guy Masterson in Guys and Dolls. That was a thrill.

After being there about six years…and some of the stresses of my being involved in business and competing with our relationship, you know., caused some problems. And we had our third child, so we were very busy a lot of the time. Either involved in social activities with our friends, having dinner parties and things like that, or taking care of the children.

Then I was assigned to work as a production manager, as a number two man, at a large factory in Bradford, Pennsyl­vania. It’s a tough industrial town in the old oil fields of Pennsylvania. Morally it was a decrepit town. Even some of the people who worked for the company there were very unsavory in some respects. It had a bad influ­ence on everybody. Fortunately, I was only there for a year, but it was tough year. I was in‑a lead position in a factory where the style was to be tough and that was not my style. And where people had long knives and real­ly pulled the carpet out from under you. I had no…I could not believe that people behaved that wsy, or that what had always worked for me, which was to be nice and charming and thoughtful…you know, the whole mish mash, and it just didn’t work.

Nevertheless, I was asked to be in a similar position when we started a factory in Wilmington, North Carolina. So, we went from a terrible place to an absolutely marvelous place. We were there for two years, during . which time I was busier than I ever had been because we were starting a factory, and I worked very hard at that. And it waa very difficult…it put a tremendous stress on our marriage, because I would disappoint Sue. I think that she had expectations that I could not meet.

Never‑the‑less, we were very much taken in by the people’ of Wilmington, a town of about 100,00. We went to a church and became members of a nice part of society, and the young minister and his wife became our very, very close friends. In some ways it was a very rewarding situation. We were both taken in as a nice and attrac­tive and important couple, and that kind of stuff.

The factory had a very rough start up. We got things started, we hired a lot of people, and then we laid them all off because sales fell off. We had nothing to do with sales, and eventually we brought them all back,

That was the first time that I ever really got taken out of a job. And some other people were taken out. The whole division was under trcmendous pressure and some of the new people coming in said, Wwe’ve got to do something, what do we do?” So they decided, “Well, let’s change the batting order a little bit.~

 We came back to Corning, and after being in Wilmington, North Carolina, it was a bit tough coming back to Corning New York. The job that I was put in never really mater­ialized as a great job,and maybe part of that had to do with me. But I think part of it had to do with the ambiguity of the job, which was to work with our European affiliates. And as a result, I traveled a lot to Europe and put on seminars, and traveled to Japan and got some thhngs done for the company that had never been done before. But I don’t think that any of this counted for much, and at the end of 1970 I was asked to leave the company. Corning has a reputation for purging period­ically.

At that time I was really angry. I was furious and I figured that I had been japped. I had the STRENGTH of my anger and the strenght of my confidence. But again, I had no way of figuring out what else I could

possibly do. I had a family…my God, we were going to run out of money soon, I had to have a job. So I: learned how to go about getting a job. And finally, after writing thousands of letters, and all kinds of interviews (and it was during a recession time and there were a lot of guys out on the street)…through the intervention of a friend of mine, I got a job at an international bank in Chicago.

We moved to Chicago thinking “Oh good, we’ll’ be here a coup]e of years and maybe get assigned to Europe.  Both Sue and I were thinking that it would be nice to sort of clone what my parents did, I think that there is a lack of venturing out, myself, to do something radically different. Although I can’t fault myselI, because I remember feeling the wrenching pressure of having a family and those responsibilities. And they were pretty desperate. And my wife was very supportive and very loyal, and that helped tremendously.

We moved to Chicago and had ups and downs, and either lost jobs, or had jobs with a company that had to shut down. For the next 18 years we raised our family in Chicago, in a suburb where we would never have elected to live. Sue, about 15 years ago, started to teach so she would have something to do, She established her ow identity and did a marvelous job, and became a very good high school English teacher.

And so there were good points in those years, and our oldest son’s growing up went on, so we watched him through high school and we watched him through college, and the girls that he knew, and then he went into the Peace Corps. And we watched young John make a whole group of friends. It was wonderful to watch the two boys anyway, growing up. John played soccer, became an excellent soccer player, and was a very good diving person. And was a very nice young man. total, total thrill to have those boys around. There was that warmth.

And at one point I lost a job and there was a long break before the next job. Before I went to work there, we took a trip out to the South Pacific and visited my youngest son, who was there in the Peace Corps. I mention that as something that was thrilling for us, it was a real highlight. My wife and I love to travel, and it was an extended trip, about three weeks.

You’re going to hear me say that the biggest thing in my life right now is my absolute saddness and worry about my marriage, because I don’t know if it’s on the rocks or not. But after sticking together the last two years at the bank, where things had been getting more and more difficult, partly because I was in a group which was developing a very corrosive attitude. And three or four people either quit or got themselves fired before it happened to me. So it was a bad place, and continued to be a bad place after I left. But I wasn’t cut out to be the kind of banker that I was expected to be there, Nobody realized it, but I was the best person they ever had in terms of developing confidence on the part of customers, and bringing them into the bank.

But I now realize that I have hideously bad organization skills and my administrative assistant was taken away at some point…I never got one back,..and it was hideous. It was administrative suicide. And I tried to do a really good job, and I’d bite off more than I could chew and more than I really should have tried, because nobody was supporting what I was doing. But this anger and frustration and worry that I was felling increasingly, made me very stubborn on the job. I would insist that this really is the way we should do it, in spite of the fact that this is supposed to be chapter and verse. And I worked for a guy with whom I had a horrible person­ ality conflict. And I now know that I am an emotional person and very enthusiastic, and this guy was Mr. Drab. A few months before I finally found out I was going to be fired, in the very clumsy way that they told me, I told  him. I said, “Look, I’m not going to stand for this, You’re not using my head right. I know it, and it’s not good for the bank and its not good for me. I just have to work in a different situation in the future.” But no­ body was looking out for these kinds of things. And I’m sure that I was becoming a little bit crazy at that point so I probably contributed to my own demise. Even though during this period I pulled off some deals that nobody had ever come anywhere near. They were incredable, and nobody else could have done it. But I was out of sync with the regime and I was in such a tailspin.

 Two things were happening during that period. I was getting probably less and less effective on the job, and less and less confident, and more and  more anger was building up inside of me, to a very serious level. And that was affecting my relationship with my wife. And so we had worked hard together for many years…worked well together, and there are many things that we remember fondly that we did together. But there was more and more estrangement, and as I became more and more preoccupied with my situation at work I realized less and less that my wife was more and more estranged. Even though we were living in the same house, and even though we would talk seriously about things, and even though we had for many years,and had at that point, hideous problems with our daughter.

Who got through high school by the grace of the learning disabilities department and went to college, and had 21/2 years of a social experience at a school that had coaches for people with‑learning disabilities. Got invo]ved w;th a whole bunch of crummy boys and finally married one, who was a cook in the Navy. We thought that this was a great thing for Sally, but we had gotten to a point where we realized that we had to engage in Tough Love. That is to say that we could not just say,””Well, Sally don’t worry about a thing” and always shelter her. She had to find out that she could do things by herself. We tried some counseling along the way, and I wish that we had done more between the two of us.

Because I had always been the hero, and my wife had always treated me as the hero, and I thought that it was my inalienable right and naturally everything was fine and I was the strong person in the relationship. But really I had become weaker and‑ weaker in a sense, because I had ceased being the wage earner and really wasn’t in control of myself. So I got fired, and we had these hideous problems with Sally, and two weeks after I was fired I was driving my wife’s car and I had one hell of an acci­dent.

It was a little mysterious because I turned in front of another car, and I said, “My God, I don’t think that I did that on purpose. I found out that I didn’t. I woke up in an ambulence and at the end of the day had 45 stitches across my face. What I am trying to explain to you in a dramatic way, is that I had hit what I thought was the worst emergency of my life. Everything that I had strived to do in 30 years in business was now going down in flames. Because I really had been FIRED from this job. And even though I knew that there were things to say on my own behalf, there was such an aocumulation of feeling behind, and feeling lack of confidence and stuffed anger, that I was a mental basket case. And I then found myself in an outplacement service which people use when they get fired. And I had fans all over the bank and a lot of people said, well geeze, the wrong guy got fired. But in spite of that, I was really in the pits.

The outplacement service is supposed to help you get your head on straight, figure out what career you want and help you plan it. So at the age of 56 or 57, I am out of a job, I’m really feeling depreseed, and I’m deciding that I’m not only going to want to change a career…finally, because Jesus, you know, have I learned my lesson? Maybe business is not the right place for me. I’m confused about that and I’m still trying to settle old scores. I haven’t let go.

So I started to struggle with this outplacement firm. The counselor I was working with was kind of a cold fish, ironically. But a couple of the other people I warmed up to. Maybe this was a way of procrastinating. but I found myself trying to help all of these other guys. There were 20 or 30 people there. And this guy noticed this and finally the head of the counselors said, “Would you like to come to work for us?~ This was the greatest thing that could have happened to me. And I wanted to be wanted. But I didn’t do that because I wanted to move to the East. So what I was trying to do is very hard at 57…change jobs and move from one place to another.

 In the middle of the summer of that year…I’d been out of work for six months, our daughter had a baby during that time…we’re home alone, though I’m beginning to travel so I could get us to the East. Both of our sons graduated from Harvard on the same day. That was really wonderful.

But in the middle of that summer I found that my marriage was in serious trouble. And my wife and I confronted that and had a real blow up. I really saw the grave then. you talk about feelings of being abandoned…Geese. lt sill affects me.

So since then…   ( THERE IS A LONG, EMOTION FILLED SILENCE)

so my wife and I came to sort of a truce. And since then I have tried to climb back up. And I went through a period of rage, and it’s not over. I realized that I had to take therapy…so…and we had slso decided that Portland was the place we wanted to live…so I won’t go into all of the details but there was a lot of anxiety. And confusion in the encounters my wife and I have had, because we both are good people, we love each other very much, we love our children…we’re decent people but we’re very confused all of a sudden because of these truly cataclysmic events that were happening in sequence. It was not only the trouble that I had gotten myself into; I was finally facing some of my shortcomings. And figuring myself,out psychologically in order to reconstruct the whole thing parallel to this was just a huge heap of worries and concerns, The biggest of which was our daughter, who had had a baby. Her husband was suddenly issued out of the Navy early, and they trapped us into… to make a long story short, they’re living in our house.

My daughter’s husband is not a strong person, very weak and childish in many respects, and the pressure of having them living in the house was driving me crazy because I knew that it was rupturing more arteries in my marriage. Which I will say I had taken for granted, but I never thought would end. This was the foundation, and when I felt like it was going to blow apart, it was like every­ thing was lost.

So I came here and I might as well give you the gory details…I landed a job which looked like it wasvcertainly going to take care of financial details.. It paid $75,000 a year and…in Maine you can be a KING. I de­ bated not taking this job because I thought that the sal­vation for our marriage and for myself was to live a far

simpler life, without quiet desperation or agonizing desperation. And to appreciate nature and all of the finer things in life. So I  was under tremendous pressure. I was entering therapy, I was beginning to read things, I was about to take a wonderful course at the University of Southern Maine…all of these things were bringing me a vision of a different kind of life, and ah…

Nevertheless, again I felt the practical pressures. I felt that I had to have a job soon, and that this would vindicate me…solve things; I’d come in as the hero and save our marriage, we’d fall back into each others arms. And so I took this job. For reasons I would rather not have disclosed because of ethical reasons, I never really signed on, and this led to my demise a month later. The other thing is that I was so worried about my situation at home, that I insisted when I took the job that I be able to go home for long weekends occasionally. And I’d go home and we’d yell and scream at each other, It was terrible. I was so preoccupied.

The result of all of this was that the job didn’t work out. The guy who had hired me came in a month after I had gotten started and said “I just don’t think that this is going to work.” But it was my continueing insistance on doing things my way and my inability, on some days, to think about anything other than my family.

I realized that I was totally dependent on this relation­ ship and that I had to stop that. I had to, essentially, find enough worth in myself, and self‑reliance, that come what may, I would do what I thought was the right thing. I was really in a hell of a mess, and in many ways still am.

Jack:   Well, this is all very recent and active in your life, really.

Harvey: Absolutely, By last November, MY GOD, I haven’t had a job in nine months, except for one I

only had for a month. Well there is something legitimately to be said for myself in that situation, but the whole thing had gone down the tube, and I said to myself, “My God, Portland is one single network, and I’m scuttled here. What can I do?

And then I started, over Christmas vacation to really come into the wilderness a few times and think about what is important to me, And in.the process of therapy, I guess. You know, What is my life’s bliss…what is it I seek .

And I realized that I have learned so much about suffering that I didn’t know. And I began to look around me, Jack, and began to realize that there were people suffering worse than I was. And I went to some ~l‑anon meetings and I thought abcut other peole. And I said, “My God, I have children who love me, I’m not in a financial disaster yet, I’ve got so many breaks. And I hav~ seen with such clarity and pain, things that I think are important, and I want to learn more about that.

Now a lot of this wouldn’t have happened if I’d been lucky in some ways. But I must look at myself as enor­ mously lucky, because I have the blessing of insight and a good education, and ways of dealing with things. Now, any questions about all of this?

Jack: Well frankly, I’m amazed at how few I’ve had to ask up to this point. You’ve obviously been doing a great deal of thinking.

Harvey: Constantly! Looking backwards over my life, I’ve been able to put it in much larger chunks. We talked about the highly successful, from outward appearances, first 20 or 25 years. You know, I do feel that I w~s a good and caring person all that time. Ummm…l guess that I was very fortunate, and that’s fine, but I did not learn toughness.

 And the next 20 or 25 years I learned a hell of a lot of toughness, but not enough. I really was trying to meet my obligations and try to do everything I could. so many other people try to do the same thing.

And the big passage in life comes when the children finally do leave and two people are suddenly with each other, and for one thing, their time is not filled with these immediate responsibilities. And then some thing, that you have not thought about, or not resolved, catch up with you. If you disguised those things, or put them away, they’re just going to be lurking there. So, as dangerous as it is and as horrifying as it is to face those things, you have to do it.

I don’t think that people have to go that route, if you’re more honest right through life and face things as you go along.

And it seems to me that there’s something to be said for getting the most out of this age, and the most of the next one, and the most of the next.

MY PERCEPTIONS

One thing pops out of this interview again~and again…Harvy is still very actively engaged in what might bc called a mid‑life crisis. He does not have the perspective of an elder who views life as largely behind him; Harvey’s focus is still very much on the future and resolving life conflicts.

I found reflecting an this man’s bittersweet words to be somewhat disquieting…as if watching a play which leaves you wondering whether it will have a tracic or inspiring outcome. The gods are angry at Harvey, the question is whether he will be able to appease them.

The story is full of issue and conflict. It is not told from the perspective of a content man. Indeed it would be interesting to repeat this interview after Harvey comes to terms with these issues, to see how the tone and color change with perspective. What isheartening is Harvey’s committment to affect that resolu­tion. I think that perhaps this drive to do a thing for himself is new for HarveY.

In fact, I~.think that at the very center of his crisis is the overriding fact that Harvey expresses his belief that he has very rarely done anything strictly for himself. It is expressed in many ways, but this comes up again and again over the course of the interview, along with a growing awareness of the problem, its roots and its cost. Harvey’s day of reckoning for a life devoted to pleasing others has come. It seems that this is cur­rently a two‑headed monster, one head being marriage and the other career. The heart remains bliss gone ignored, however.

In marriage his core conflict seems to be elevating the needs~ of other above his own in a self‑perpetuating hero/martyr role.

In his career, it seems to come down to staying in business while his heart was elsewhere, and substituting carm for the kind of competance that only bliss can provide. Which is not to say that Harvey was not a good business man, only that his expressions of enthusism all lay elsewhere.

The good news in my mind is that in facing these issues, and struggling toward self‑owned and desired outcomes, real success Harvey is reaching out for autonomy and self-definition and is beginning to see how he is related, through his suffering, to the rest of us. Generativity is becoming an operational adjective for his life.

AND it seems that his efforts in these directions have taken on a life of their own and have, for now, become Harvey’s bliss . At least he truely owns them. For once7 If there is any truth to the power of following your bliss, then there is a good chance that he will be successful, as he has been so often before.

 

 

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