Monday, February 05, 2007

The Existentialism of Westlife

I love my counseling professor. She's just really the most open and sincere professor (at least in a classroom setting) that I've ever had. It's fitting that she's also a therapist. She talks so openly about her life, and her trials, and constantly uses herself as an example for things that we talk about. I think it really fosters an openness in the students as well, which is good, because sometimes we have to get in groups and talk about pretty personal stuff. She always offers the caveat that we don't have to talk about anything we don't want to, but most everyone is pretty open.

So today we were talking about Existential therapy (even though it's less a therapy, per se, than a pure philosophy) and its adherents, like students of Alfred Adler (who I love!), and Victor Frankl, who also seems pretty great. He wrote Man's Search for Meaning, and was himself an Auschwitz survivor, though not a single person in his family survived. His parents, relatives, wife and children were all exterminated, but he migrated to America after the war, started a practice, and maintained until the day he died that he wasn't a victim, and life was all about attitude. Which I guess is a central tenet of existentialism, that no one is a victim, and everyone has the power to create his or her own destiny.

But to get to the point, this is why I love my professor:

To help illustrate the idea of existentialism, she showed us the video for Westlife's version of "The Rose." She feels that the lyrics encapsulate kind of the heart of what the philosophy is all about. My professor is such a sentimentalist at heart, and I think that's why I like her so much. She's been through some hell (including having to commit her first husband for mental illness and then having him kill himself, leaving her with two very young children, and also having a younger brother who died very prematurely. How he died she's never said, but she's implied it was due to some pretty reckless and careless living). But she maintains this sense of optimism, while remaining firmly in reality and how awful life sometimes is.

It's a corny song and video, but she got a little teary-eyed showing it to us. Which, I don't know, I find so endearing. And to top it all off, she even admitted how corny it is, but she liked it anyway, and she said the video really gets to her. And she kind of giggled about it.

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