His reputation preceded him: He was a successful psychotherapist, and one of the most renowned trainers of person-centered psychotherapy in Greece. I entered the door of the classroom of the Institution of Counseling and Psychological Studies already knowing that my former university classmates would envy me and bombard me with questions. “Is he as charming as he is said to be?”. Well, let me answer that for you. No, not at all. At least not at first.
The first impression he would give you was that of a man bored to be there. He would only take his gaze from out the window to look at the wall clock. And on top of that he kept rattling his feet nervously, like a schoolboy waiting hastily for the recess bell. While the other trainers were explaining how we would proceed and what the first training weekend would include, I couldn’t help but wonder how much money he was being paid to be persuaded to be there. Disappointing, right? Yes, I was immensely disappointed. Until he started talking.
Once he opened his mouth, it was as if he suddenly transformed to another person. Let me paint the picture for you: On his face, the most sincere smile I had ever seen appeared. His gaze, bored and distracted until a few moments ago, was now full of sparkle. His voice was so soothing it felt like a parental caress. And if that’s not enough, his words were so profound they sounded like poetry. That’s when I realized, this person would indeed shape me as a psychotherapist. And he would indeed; for the next three years, he would be a constant source of knowledge and inspiration. What I couldn’t realize at that point was how much he would also shape me as a person.
Have you ever met a person that makes you feel so safe that you can explore even the darkest corners of yourself? Someone that believes so much in you that you feel you can do anything? If not, I sincerely wish you find a person like that in your life. I’m sure you will agree with me when I say, a person like that can help you unlock potential you didn’t even know you had in you. I’m very grateful that he existed in my life for as long as he did…
When I heard the news of his sudden death, the world around me stopped for a few seconds. Or was it minutes…? My colleague’s voice over the phone was trying to get a reaction from me, or at least a sign that I was still there and listening. I was still listening. But I was not there, not all of me. A part of me died that day, together with him at that beach where he sunbathing when his heart failed him, and will probably forever stay there, splashing around in the water and making castles in the sand.
So why did I share with you this story, you may wonder? Was it to just pay tribute to a great man and give him a small piece of immortality by transforming his memory into words? Yes, but not only. For me, it all boils down to this: Let people inspire you. When you meet people that can see in you the treasures you cannot see in yourself, let them dig them out. Let them change you. For when one by one the people that feel proud of you disappear, the only way to keep them close to your heart is being able to feel proud of yourself.