Catch and release wild house flies

Just a reminder:  My men’s counseling group begins this coming Monday, September 19th.  It runs from 715-830 at my Midtown Sacramento office.  I have one spot left.  If you want more information, please look at my blog: “Men at work, men without hats, and men’s counseling group.”  It can be found on the homepage of my website:


A few months back, a fly broke into my therapist’s office, seeking sugar or water or whatever flies crave. We tried to ignore it, but it’s tough to talk about whatever I was talking about and ignore a buzzing, taunting, annoying little creature flying around.

After a while, I reached critical mass and inconspicuously looked around for the want ads. Simultaneously, my peace-loving therapist broke out one of those silly contraptions that gently suck flies into a chamber without harming their delicate wings and respiratory systems. After giving the fly a full physical, he opened his door and released it back into the wild. Since my therapist is a Buddhist, I wasn’t surprised. Still I rolled my eyes. I’m all for animal rights, but c’mon it was only a fly.

A few weeks later the fly followed its breadcrumbs and broke back into the building.  After a couple of minutes of doing its distracting trapeze performance, I started getting annoyed and hoped he would break out the catch and release device.

In a completely unexpected turn of events, my therapist broke out this device that looked like a slightly oversized badminton racket. Without a moment’s notice, he pushed a button and the racket lit-up with a lightening bolt. Although I was almost blinded by the light, through the corner of my eye I saw him swing his racket as firmly as an overhead. The buzzing stopped. Although it might just have been my imagination running away with me, I think he smirked a little. After the smoke lifted, we went back to our conversation.

What the hell! He’s Buddhist. He’s peace loving. But he’s a FLY KILLER!!! My world was turned upside down. My view of him shifted. I felt differently and needed to figure out why.

Back in the safety of my living room, I chewed on it. Immediately, my mind went to the “don’t judge a book by its cover” place. Ok. Sure. But this really didn’t fit; it was far too superficial. This refers to someone you don’t know or know very little.  After 5 years of seeing him, I know him fairly well (and I know a number of people who know him in different contexts and corroborate my opinion). After concluding this, I felt like I needed to go a little deeper.

My mind went to a kid I worked with a few years back, who often felt judged by people who really didn’t know him. Although he was far, far too humble to say it, it was pretty clear to me that he was gifted in a number of ways, and this left people with such a strong reaction to him that they tended not to get to know him.

He called this turning away, “stopping at the front door.” He really wanted to get to know people and for people to know him on a deeper level. Sadly this wasn’t happening. Fortunately, over time, he worked it through and figured out how he could be more inviting, and he formed a few deeper relationships.

Although he and I never discussed all of the ins-and-outs of what he processed, I feel compelled to look back. Metaphorically (and actually) he likely invited kids to walk in the front door and they did. Maybe initially they had a snack and then headed home. Then, maybe they ate some food and played video games. Perhaps they then stayed the night and played video games. From then on, they likely hung out more at school, went out for junk food after school, were in group texts, played video games on-line, etc. And this kid was no longer the unapproachable, intimidating kid. He simply was a normal kid playing whatever video game was the game of the week.

So what’s my overall point to you? Sure, try not to judge books by their covers. More importantly, have the courage to walk through peoples’ front doors. When you really get to know them, you might just form deep relationships. (And, I’ve got to say that I feel pretty cool about understanding better my relationship with my therapist, even though we’ll never play video games…)

Over time, this therapist, parent, and spouse who doesn’t play first person shooter games is going through life, doing the best I can.

Until next time…

One Response to Catch and release wild house flies
  1. elizabeth
    September 17, 2016 | 9:28 am

    It is so true…if you spend a lot of time with most people you will get to like them.
    In the last year or so there is a women in a group I’m in who was very blunt and outspoken and I thought obnoxious…..Nothing sweet about her…But…I have been forced to be around her with my group’s projects. And slowly I realized she is really ok and kind of funny and quirky…..

    She is not someone I want to go to lunch with one on one but we hug a bit when we meet and I do like her a lot more now….

    It’s all about the timing. I would never have spent time getting to know her if wasn’t for my group and being thrown together with her….

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