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Dr. Hallowell's Blog

Note From Ned

Greetings, my friends. Now that we have one more hour of daylight, I guess it is safe to say that we have weathered winter, but given what happened in New England last winter, I don’t want to jinx us and speak too soon!

In these notes that I write each month (which I hope you enjoy!), I try either to reflect upon some idea or mood, or to recommend some book, product, or activity I’ve found particularly useful or appealing. As I write, I always try to imagine you, which is of course difficult because I can’t see you, and I don’t even know how many of you are actually joining me on these “notes from Ned.”

I would like very much to see you, to have each one of you over to my house for a coffee or a glass of wine, to sit by our hearth with our Jack Russell, Ziggy, to introduce you to my wife, Sue, if she happened to be at home when you dropped by, as well as our three kids, Lucy, who is now 26, Jack, who is 23, and Tucker who is 20. I’d love to chat with you about everything under the sun, to get to know you and invite you to get to know me, to have a long enough time together that we could begin to go deeper than the surface and provide each other with the comfort that comes from connection and friendship. I’d like to tell you about the book I am working on right now (a memoir, a new direction for me), the worries I have about today’s world (likely similar to yours), and the joys Sue and I find in cooking. How we love to cook! Sue is far better at it than I am, but we both love to do it. I’d like to learn what you love to do, what your worries are, and what projects you might be working on these days.

I’d love to know the particulars of your life, and tell you about the particulars of mine. For example, I drive a 2007 Chevy Suburban, which totally embarrasses Sue, because it is so eco-toxic. Still, when the kids were younger, it served us well. I’d like to tell you about how I feel at age 66, how it seems to me that I just turned 40 a few weeks ago. I’d like to tell you about each one of our children in great detail, complete with photographs and endless anecdotes, much to their annoyance. I’d like to tell you about my own childhood and college years, about watching Bobby Orr skate up ice, weaving and changing speeds as if on wings, the greatest athlete I’ve ever seen (except, perhaps for Bill Russell or Tom Brady); about discovering Samuel Johnson when a sophomore in college, through lectures delivered by the legendary Walter Jackson (Jack) Bate, who channeled Johnson twice a week in Emerson Hall; about the red ribbon around a straw hat that drew me to Sue first of all; about the bullet hole in the window of my first psychiatry office when I was a resident in training at the old Massachusetts Mental Health Center; about carving a plump roasted turkey with Dr. Ellen Tabor on the day before Thanksgiving on one of the inpatient units at that same hospital; about my youngest child, Tucker, when I asked him please to stop growing, replying, “But Daddy, I can’t control my heightness!”; about the debates Sue and I have each night before we go to sleep regarding the temperature of our bedroom; about saying goodbye with Sue and our kids on Christmas Day of 2014 an hour before my older brother, Johnny, died; about my oldest brother, Ben, and what a great character he is and how glad I am he is still alive; in short (or long) about all the details that combine to create my reality.

And how much I’d love to hear the same from you!

But that’s impossible. Or is it? And this is the crux of this note: by stating my desire, and by providing some details, by embarking on the journey, perhaps I can activate in you the same desire, leading you on the same journey, inclining you, perhaps, to peruse a few of your details, and to feel the uncanny warmth of connection they provide, connection not only to your past and your present, but to the larger community we all partake of.

Since as long as I can remember, this has been my lifelong wish, a wish that was intensified by a chaotic childhood, that we would all come together; that we would all beam each other vibes of warmth, trust, forgiveness, and joy; that we would, even without knowing each other or seeing each other face to face, join in that invisible network that can touch us all if we let it, and provide for each other, here and now, the peace, security, and well-being we all yearn for so deeply.

It’s in our power to do it, you know. It truly is. Every day. It’s within our reach, if we use our imaginations. Give it a try, won’t you? Take a moment now, and join me at my imaginary hearth. Ziggy will climb up on your lap and give you lots of love while I go to the kitchen to fetch our refreshments.

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