A few pushes off the fence

by Trey Nosrac

He gazed through the passenger window, watching leaves skitter across the berm of the blacktop. Without turning his head, he asked, “Did you ever see a therapist?”

“Once, as in a single, one-hour session.”


“My health insurance deductible clock got reset. Paying out of pocket was a stretch. Besides, I found my therapist quite nosy.”

He looked my way and smiled. “I did a year. It was interesting. Dr. Marie Lucas, my therapist, constantly pushed me to find an activity where I could lose myself. She tried to get me involved in the world outside of work. She advocated that passions and hobbies are great outlets for escape, personal expression, and distraction. You found harness racing. I never found anything serious.”

“Phew, that was a little wordy, but I know what you mean. A lot of people sit on the couch, doing the same old, same old.”

He ran his hand through his salt and pepper chin stubble, “Some of us are passive by nature. Others are active. Humans are complicated.”

I took a few seconds and said, “I know at least six people who sort of enjoy harness racing, folks who have disposable income they will take to the grave. They seem to walk up to the line of getting involved and then find reasons not to cross that line.”

He said, “I’m one of those people. I enjoy listening to your horse rantings. Several times I have considered buying a few yearlings or gambling on races, but for some unknown reason, I never do it, I never commit.”

“Dude, I wish everyone knew the joy of finding a passion. It doesn’t have to be my passion. Any activity, hobby, outlet, or creative endeavor can do the trick and can be magic.”

My therapist agrees with you. She said the right passion could change how a person views themself and can be good for physical and mental health. But Trey, for some of us, it’s difficult psychologically to allow ourselves to dive into new territory.”

“And you never did?”

“Not really. I bought a few rare books, scratched the surface. But all along, it felt like I was pretending, you know, forcing it.”

I nodded. “My thinking is that some individuals are afraid to make fools of themselves. They overthink things. To get into the zone, you have got to stick your neck out and get into unknown waters, sort of abandon common sense, whatever common sense means.”

“During our sessions, Dr. Lucas gave me specific tips for finding a new passion or at least reconnecting to an old passion. I don’t remember all of her suggestions, but I remember a few.”

“Like what?”

“One suggestion was that whatever I chose to try, I should do it daily, regularly, make it a habit. I was supposed to block out an hour each day to think about a subject and allow my unconscious to kick in. Even without a detailed plan, creativity will kick in. She told me to close my eyes or stare at an image on the computer but stay in the lane of my potential passion until something pops up. Then follow that something and don’t let regular life get in the way.”

I said, “Nah. To me, when your therapist suggested that you make yourself do something, it seems like forcing the issue, like having a job to finish. The mindset should be you don’t want to stop.”

His voice grew louder. “That IS the mindset of people who are easily engaged. She was talking about ways to REACH that point. She also suggested it is easier to get over the hump by engaging in the chosen activity with people who either love the activity or are at your level of learning the activity. Having a partner can reinforce motivation.”

I shook my head. “Meh, make time, make friends. Those sound lame.”

“You might like this one, and it might work in your sport. Dr. Lucas said that some people are motivated by competition. For horse racing, it could be setting specific targets. Buy a yearling and turn a profit. Bankroll a monthly amount to wager on races and try to turn a profit. Buy a broodmare and try to sell a yearling for a profit. These sorts of goals are specific prompts that give people focus, particularly introverted people.”

I flashed him a thumbs up, “Now, that one I like.”

“She had other suggestions, like take a class.”

“Another, meh.”

“Here’s a weird one I remember. One suggestion was to choose a project that incorporates positive childhood memories. As a kid, I enjoyed reading, especially history. That’s the reason I gave a half-hearted attempt at book collecting.”

I nodded, “Memoires, interesting. One of my favorite childhood memories was going to the racetrack with my grandparents, running around collecting tossed tickets from the dirty apron of the racetrack. It sounds gross now, but I loved filling popcorn boxes with those tickets. Maybe that factors into my harness racing affliction.”

“Possibly, the mind is a strange thing, especially yours.”

“Hey, you’re the subject on the table. I found my thing. We are looking for yours.”

“Yeah, you’re right. I need to find something – anything – and make it mine. I need to find the magic, to live it, breathe it, and go to sleep thinking about it.”

“Heck yeah. Step into the waters of the obsessed. Step today, step fast, and don’t overthink things. You will find that making a fool of yourself is great therapy.”