There was an awkward silence on the other end of the line - as if he was waiting for me to say more, waiting for sympathy, waiting for understanding. He appeared to be taken aback when I offered none. He didn't need sympathy - nor did he need understanding. What he needed (and didn't yet realize he needed) was a new possibility. Given his current point of view, there wasn't much chance he could possibly attend. And when he started up again ("No, you don't understand ..." blah blah blah - you know, he had it on full automatic) I repeated "Create a miracle: be there, with all of us" (that's a conversation I'm willing to have) and hung up the phone.
There was a voicemail from him the next day. In it he was suddenly no longer listing the circumstances which he said were stopping him attending, and instead listed what he had to do to overcome what was stopping him attending. I let out a quiet "Wow!" when I heard it. People are so great! One moment he knew exactly why he couldn't come. Now, with minimal input on my part, he was listing ways he can come - which is to say he was listing what he needs to make happen if he's going to come (could it be because no one bought into all his considerations?). I texted him "I got it. Create a miracle: be there, with all of us.". That's it. Nothing else.
The quality of his voice in the next voicemail he left two days later, gave it away even before I'd listened his message in its entirety. He was coming. He had rearranged whatever he needed to rearrange so he could be there. He had effectively risen above ie he had broken through whatever stops were in his way - which is to say he had broken through whatever stops he said were in his way.
There were two expressions of excitement in his message. The first was now he was free to attend. And even though that was the essential thing, the second was not altogether unexpected yet it was more powerful: it was that he experienced himself as someone who could confront "impossible" barriers and have them not stop him. I texted him back "Well Done! See you there" (I didn't want anything extra I may say to get in his way of celebrating this discovery). And the voicemail he left for me the next day really said it all. He said he had been up all night unable to sleep in excitement and anticipation of coming. I texted him back "Congratulations!". I knew.
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