Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Validate my run

The boy shifted uncomfortably in his seat. He had heard this question before; knew what the reaction would be even before he gave his answer. He gave it anyway, then waited for the inevitable expression that would follow.

"It's not that I have to upload every run I do to Strava," he said, "It's just that I want to."

His therapist looked skeptical. Yup, that was the expression.

"And what do you think would happen," his therapist paused gently, as if the idea he was about to impart was so shocking, so anxiety-inducing that it must be brought forward as discreetly as possible, as one might first introduce a baby sea lion to the peacefully lapping shores of a quiet cove rather than exposing it directly to the screaming winds and waves of a torrid sea, "if you didn't upload it to Strava? Would it be as if the run didn't happen?"

The boy broke out in a cold sweat, then gave a hollow laugh in an attempt to hide his discomfort. The laugh fooled no-one.

"No, it's not as if it didn't happen." He shook his head, knowing it was ridiculous but not understanding why this idea panicked him so. Why would you not upload a run to Strava? Why on earth would you not do that? This man - his therapist - must not understand how Strava worked.

He looked at the floor, tried to collect his thoughts. Sound rational. "Well, maybe. Perhaps." He paused, then looked back up. "I guess sometimes... well, it just feels like something's not real unless other people comment on it." He shrugged, like there it is. "Like I don't know what I think of things myself, even when I'm the one doing them, until I hear what other people think."

His therapist leaned in, eyes gleaming. Oh crap, thought the boy.

"'Something's not real unless other people comment on it,'" the therapist repeated this slowly and with emphasis. "Did you hear what you just said? That some things are not real... unless other people comment on them." The therapist leaned back then exhaled, looking triumphant. The boy thought he was being incredibly and needlessly dramatic.

"And that, my boy," the therapist continued, "is what is known as a breakthrough." He stood up and moved his chair back behind his desk where he fussed with it a bit, then straightened and looked at the boy briskly. "Same time next week?"

The boy stood up, sighed, and slowly nodded. Or a few minutes earlier, he decided. After all, he had not yet set the Strava course record for getting up the stairs.


  1. Brillian! Very very clever, young in cheek reflection. I wonder how the boy feels about his Mom setting him up for therapy. Relieved? Distant? Defiant? That therapist was legit. If he didn't lean in at a pivotal moment, I would've doubted his credentials.

  2. We need others. Yet, if we are wholly dependent on others...