This journey through life, as Emerson reminds us, is more of a zig-zag route than a straight path, and the sense of misdirection can sometimes be confusing. Certainly, there are times when we can all use assistance. Perhaps we simply require reassurance we are on the correct route, or it may be that a course correction is called for. Under such circumstances, to whom do you turn? Things like serious depression, crippling anxiety, or obsessive disorders that interfere with our basic functioning certainly require the help of a mental health professional: a trained psychologist or psychiatrist. But there is much that can get in the way of a smoothly functioning life that is short of a diagnosable mental illness. Questioning the meaning and purpose of life, feeling lost and adrift, being morally confused—none of these are by their nature diagnosable mental illnesses. Anxiety, sadness, grief, frustration, confusion, and anger as well are often not symptoms an underlying illness but part of the normal toll of living. Throughout time, countless individuals have found a comprehensive worldview to be of great assistance in dealing successfully with the big and small issues of the human condition. For many, their religious and spiritual traditions provide such a foundation. But there exists a growing number in America without a fixed religious or spiritual center. Atheists, agnostics, and secular humanists fit this description, as do lapsed Catholics, the “spiritual but not religious,” and a host of other non-conventional perspectives.
For those thus situated, philosophy can provide a similar overarching framework. A philosophical practitioner can place the history of philosophy and the art of philosophical reasoning at your disposal in order that you might draw wisdom, solace and inspiration, whether from the Stoic advice on equanimity, Aristotle’s view on the good life, Camus’ thoughts on the absurd, or the Transcendentalist reflections on nature. However, unlike the spiritual guide or religious leader, the philosophical practitioner is not there to espouse one particular point of view but to explore with you the rich and varied tapestry that is philosophy and assist you in gaining whatever guidance you can from it and in taking it where you will.
If this sounds like something you might be interested in, contact me for a free first consultation to discuss your current situation.