Preface  (To Be Oneself) 1

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Did I plan to write this story of my life? Not really, for
several reasons: I did not think I had much to say about
myself; if I had, I thought it might not be interesting; or,
even if it was, I was certain nobody would be interested
in reading it. People are only interested in reading
the life stories of great men and women. They think
ordinary people have nothing special to offer. One can
learn nothing from them. All they say is very trivial,
unimportant, just like the idle chat one hears aboard a
bus, a train, in waiting rooms, restaurants, etc.
I, myself, have read many biographies, but only of
great people from Antiquity to modern times, from
the East and the West, to mention but two: Chuang
Tzu (between 399 and 295 BC) and Eleanor Roosevelt 
(1884-1962). However, over the past ten years, I have
read dozens of case histories of ordinary people like
myself in several psychology books. The texts are
of different lengths, going from a few paragraphs to
several pages. I learned many interesting things from
these little people that I have not learned from the great
men, as the Arab saying goes,

One finds in the river
one doesn’t in the sea.

I felt closer in many aspects to, and sympathetic
with them. I used to complain not to anyone else, but to
myself, of loneliness. As I started to get more and more
in contact with such suffering people, and there were so
many of them, one day I said to myself, That is right,

I am alone.
But I am not the only person
Who feels alone.
Nearly everyone does nowadays
All over the world
And throughout History.
Therefore, I am not alone.
I feel in union and communion
With all those solitary people.

In 1999, right after my retirement, I went through
a very serious crisis due to burnout, as I had worked
for twenty-two and a half years at a stretch seven
days a week throughout the year, for my work was my
hobby, and my hobby was my work. I had to undergo
therapy in Los Angeles,  California. When I  filled out
the application, I was asked by my therapist to supply
him not quite with an autobiography, but an account of
mainly my childhood and adolescence. It was not to be
published in a book, but just for his information to put in
my  le. I immediately did as I was asked. It was indeed
painful reliving all those childhood traumas. However,
in the end, I felt relieved. I did not know exactly why and
how until I read, by chance, in Emotional Alchemy: how
the Mind can Heal the Heart, by Tara Bennett-Goleman, 
that just getting these feelings out had surprisingly
bene cial effects ( New York: Harmony Books, 2001,
p. 186). The author referred to a book entitled, Opening
Up: the Healing Power of Expressing Emotions, by
James W. Pennebaker ( New York: Guilford Press, 1990).
Then I came across another book called, Writing as a
Way of Healing: how Telling our Stories Transforms our
Lives, by Louise DeSalvo (Boston: Beacon Press, 2000).