Parker Palmer on Bill Moyers Journal: Ground On Which It's Safe to Stand

If you missed Parker Palmer’s appearance on Bill Moyers Journal last Friday, cheer up.  Here it is.

Apparently, the broadcast about illusion and reality in our current economic crisis, which included Parker talking about depression in his own life, cheered many people.  Funny how truth does that–in just the paradoxical way that Parker himself explains better than anyone I know.

Here is a Parker Palmer story from the transcript of the Bill Moyers Journal broadcast that has helped many people who, like myself, have known depression:

Parker: “I got tremendous help from a therapist at one point, in one of my depressions, who said to me, “Parker, you seem to keep treating this experience as if depression were the hand of an enemy trying to crush you. Would it be possible to re-image depression as the hand of a friend trying to press you down to ground on which it’s safe to stand?”

The exchange between Bill and Parker that follows is one of the most honest depictions of the dark side of the inner life that you are ever likely to see on television. Be sure to check out the blog posts after you watch the video.  Notice how many of them appreciate this short segment about depression.

I have written about Parker’s important book, The Courage to Teach here before, when I was preparing to teach a workshop on reflective writing, but I have not written about him as a memoir writer.  His books all contain philosophical and social reflection, but they ring most true in their many personal narratives–often moments of self-deprecation, doubt, and fear.

Despite the fact that I have been a fan and then a friend of Parker’s for many years, I never placed him in the category of memoir writer until I began to notice–duh!– that even his most highly evolved political and social discourse finds its roots in questions and experiences from his own life.  Interestingly, Parker is seldom described as a memoir writer.  He is called author, spiritual teacher, educator, and activist.  It’s time to explore what he contributes to the field of memoir writing.

I will write more in future posts about several of Parker’s memoirs.  Until then, you can find more video, speeches, and interviews at the Center for Courage and Renewal website.

Shirley Showalter

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