During 18 years as a psychotherapist,
it had gradually occurred to me that what was popularly believed, written
and taught about how to live life successfully contained some very disturbing
This was a daunting discovery.
For a long time, I seriously wondered whether I was really seeing something
that was at once so significant and yet unseen by almost everyone else.
I also wondered whether I could write about it articulately, and whether
anyone would even care.
I began writing very tentatively
and found that the very process of writing helped me see and describe my
subject more clearly. I have become convinced that what I have to say really
is important in this often difficult disturbed and disturbing world. And,
judging by my readers’ comments, I have been saying it well, and it is
something they value. All of this has encouraged me to assemble this volume
of essays. They were written between October 1988 and October 1992 and
distributed individually in the Caring Place’s bimonthly "schedule
I realize that many of
you will regard my title for this book, Popeye’s declaration, "I
am what I am," as hostile and arrogant. I don’t. In the face of
countless disturbing demands that we ought to be persons we’re not—and
pronouncements that we can choose to be—I see Popeye firmly
asserting one of the central themes of this volume: I can only be who I
am and, your decrees, pleas, protestations and threats not withstanding,
I cannot choose otherwise, no matter how much you urge it or how hard I
I hope that you find value
in these essays and that you will feel encouraged to participate in the
with the people in your life. I also hope you will dialogue with me, as
well. I welcome your ideas and comments.