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I read a lot of articles these days about burn-out and exhaustion. In the social outlets and in the medical journals these conditions are apparently rampant made worse by the consequence of covid 19. We are burning the candle at three ends. My Jungian-trained mind goes to balance, so it is not surprising I’ve been thinking a lot about “Jordon” lately.

Jordon was an analysand of mine when I was in private practice in Evanston in the early 90s. He was a man in his 70s, I recall, sent in for head-shrinking by his wife on the grounds ‘something wasn’t right with him’. Jordon was a recent retiree after decades of being the president or CEO of some sort of business.  He and his wife were quite active in fund raisers, board members, social clubs, and at their church. Now that he was retired he didn’t want to do any of these things. What he wanted to do was ‘bum around’. He was quite happy – nay, content – doing nothing more than reading books or literally going fishing without any goal of catching fish.  His wife was appalled. Mrs. Jordon wanted himto do all the usual things and more since he had more time to do them. Obviously he must be depressed, as if he was ‘right’ he would want to do all these things as she thought was ‘right’. They had a lifelong propensity to go on holidays in which she had them running around day and night when all he wanted to do was sit on the beach with a book.

Jordon and I worked on how he could find ways to reconcile his desires with hers – short of a divorce or separate vacations. I was fired in the end for not getting him better viz. not getting him to want to be busy. Rumor has it after we ended she took him on a three week-long cruise to Antartica with three other couples (none he could stand) with daily rosters full up with lecture series and yoga classes and canasta.  

I have christened the complex to be constantly on the go and doing the ‘right’ things “The Jordon Complex’. Mr. and Mrs. Jordon could have been seen as extreme cases of introversion vs. extroversion but I think there was more than ‘where did they go to recharge themselves’. Mrs. Jordon (at least how she was portrayed to me) had a lot of ‘should’ statements to her, and vanity too – what would the neighbors think or her/them to know Jordon was bumming around when his peers were running boards and charity drives? Oh the embarrassment.

‘Being busy’ is the new bent status symbol but it wasn’t always this so. Before the 20th century the rich and important boasted their worth through a life of indolence. In the 21st century it is through how g-d busy we are. We can’t just do a simple stroll in the park but must be listening to a lecture or audiobook while tracking our steps for cardiovascular health. Maybe you are old enough to remember weekends and vacations used to be  times of ‘doing nothing’, taking a rest, to recharge you batteries for the work week.

Please don’t think I am above and beyond this. I must consciously mind the habit and cultural influence to be constantly doing things. I am working on my inner-Jordon to let him go fish or read a book or whatever he wants – or doesn’t want – to do. I want to say to others when they asks me: ‘what did you do on your vacation?” or “How was your weekend?” to say ‘oh nothing really, it was non-eventful”.  The Mrs. Jordons has been running the itinerary for far too long now and it is costing us our energy and our souls. 

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