"He is not going to change," said the psychologist a couple of weeks ago – meaning that I am always going to have to deal with his recklessness about money. Not that it's a general recklessness, more of a fixation on particular things. He is such a sucker for marketing courses that will somehow make us rich overnight. He thinks there is some lack in him they will address, or some technique he doesn't know, that they will give him. If it's not outright marketing, then it's a spiritualised version of the same, which is supposed to make him so dynamic at manifestation that, again, all our financial problems will instantly be solved as if by magic.
A couple of years ago he drove himself to a heart attack, trying – at the then age of 78 – to keep up with a very intense, goal-oriented marketing program. That nearly cured him, but only temporarily. It endangers our budget as well as his health. However, I keep an eye on it and manage to keep it under control as much as possible. Sometimes he wakes up for himself. E.g. he convinced me that a certain meditation program on disc, with subliminal messages, was worth the money. It was a small outlay at first, and he did derive pleasure from it, though I could see little outward sign of improved health, concentration etc. Then came the wonderful offer too good to refuse – buy all the follow-up courses right now and save heaps, only a few thousand dollars if you accept by a certain date. Even one thousand dollars would have been way beyond us; also he was disillusioned. He imagines the entrepreneurs who offer these programs are humanitarians. He imagines he has a personal relationship with each one, and replies to their automatically generated emails in a personal, chatty way. He was disgusted by this offer, and it even stopped him from acquiring the advanced courses more slowly, as he had intended.
But anyway, there do seem to be changes. Is the beginner's disc, which he still uses, responsible for this? Is it the iron injections his doctor's been giving him for increased energy? Is it the recent changes in his medications? I'm not sure, but he does have more energy (a big tick for the iron injections) and he does seem to have a better grasp of things mentally, most of the time. He still needs help with simple computer operations he used to know, and still tends to forget recent conversations and not always know what day it is, but he doesn't appear to be in a general state of confusion. Far from it.
He's actually been writing articles, finishing them, and submitting them! This is wonderful progress. And it makes me realise something I hadn't fully "got" before - journalism is one of his passions. I've only known him as an ex-journalist who now writes fiction and memoirs. But the clues have been there, e.g. he has always continued to put "journalist" on his email signature and business cards. I would have said writing is a passion for him – and that's true – but I hadn't realised how much the actual practice of freelance journalism (he was mostly a freelance in his past career) would fill him with aliveness.
These are perhaps not the sort of changes the psychologist was talking about when she said he wouldn't change. I suppose he will always be longing for self-improvement and more wealth. When I met him he was a self-confessed "seminar junkie". He has simply transferred that to the internet. And I suppose it is very common for men of his generation to feel they MUST be good providers, and to measure that by pragmatic material standards. It's sad that he feels he has failed in this.
Another thing that is surely constant is his passionate desire to improve the world and help its inhabitants – something I share. We're both very inclined to be trying to save the planet. We belong to GetUp and Avaaz, we vote Green, we sign petitions.... This is one reason for his passion for journalism too. It's not just reporting stuff; his articles are designed to wake people up to the ways in which we can all improve our lives and keep our planet healthy.
Anyway, it's good to see him physically energetic and mentally confident and engaged.