Do you remember the 1991 movie “What About Bob?” Starring Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfuss, Murray plays Bob Wiley, a psychiatric patient who follows his egotistical psychiatrist Dr. Leo Marvin (Dreyfuss) on vacation.
I remember seeing this movie and feeling annoyed at Bob. He showed up at their front door, invited himself in for lunch and wouldn’t let the family have any peace. I said, “Why doesn’t Bob just go away?” Of course, he couldn’t go away, it was the theme of the movie. We all have Bobs who won’t go away, either, and become the theme of our lives.
One of the movie’s most famous conversations goes like this:
Doctor: “Are you married?”
Bob: “I’m divorced.”
Doctor: “Would you like to talk about that?”
Bob: “There are two types of people in this world: Those who like Neil Diamond and those who don’t. My ex-wife loves him.”
Doctor: “So what you’re saying is that even though you are an almost paralyzed, multiphobic personality who is in a constant state of panic, your wife did not leave you, you left her because she loves Neil Diamond.”
I recently talked to a lady and had a similar conversation. It was all about Bob. Neither conversation made sense, but maybe it does to the one who rationalizes their problem. They don’t want to change and will live with the situation.
This lady, five years older than me, said, “I’ll never forgive Bob.”
I said, “You need to forgive Bob. It doesn’t hurt Bob, it hurts you.”
“I can’t forgive him.”
“Bob is a rope around your neck and he is holding you back. If you don’t let go of him, you will become bitter and no one will want to be around you, especially your children.
“You’re going to be all dried up like a prune and your bones will dry up, too. You are allowing yourself to be saddled with Bob and you don’t even like Bob.”
She replied, “I don’t care. I am bitter and I’ll never forgive Bob. I lost my home because of Bob. I’ll never get over it.”
My Sweet Al is so matter of fact. He sees things in black and white and gave his opinion. “If she doesn’t like Bob, why does she keep him around? What is her gripe? She got the house, she is sitting on a couple of million. Bob doesn’t have a pot or anything else. Let him go and chase the young girls. Bob has gone on, he is singing Celine’s song, ‘My heart will go on and on.’”
But my friend has a different spin on Celine’s song about Bob: “Every night in my nightmares, I see Bob, I feel Bob. That is how I know Bob. And spaces between us. Near, far, wherever you are. Bob is everywhere. And, I am getting bitter and angrier at every turn because Bob is gone but always shows up.”
My Sweet Al says, “she needs to quit messing around and get on with her life. Her widow friends are all going on cruises, spending their dead husbands’ money. She can afford to go, why doesn’t she go and enjoy life and fall in love with Neil Diamond?”
“Because she gave 32 years of marriage to Bob, who disappointed and offended her. He is still robbing her of life and yet he is out of her life. He doesn’t even know all of this is going on. The problem is she will give him another 20 years if she doesn’t forgive him and settled this offense.”
I reminded my Sweet Al about rains in the desert. The barren land is dry. Not even a weed survives the hot, baking sun. But, when a little rain hits the dry ground, forgotten, buried seeds will burst forth. Whatever is buried underneath the ground will spring up. We can’t hide those ugly feelings. They will take over every relationship we have.
When the rain comes on a kind heart, the desert will blossom quickly. Because it waits to blossom, the seeds, the dry riverbeds and the potential is there waiting.
Al reminded me that in a dry riverbed, when the rains come, there are fish. How did that happen? From where did the fish come?
It brought to mind the hidden seeds of potential and the hidden seeds of bitterness. When the desert rain comes, those who are free to bloom will blossom. Those who are holding on to resentment and refuse to forgive that person who has injured them, they will spiral further downward and sprout up unwanted weeds.
Final brushstroke: We probably all have an unwanted Bob who shows up. But no matter how barren our lives have become or hopeless or how many years we’ve lost and given to Bob, there is a way to get rid of him. All it takes is a heart to turn to heaven and forgive. Then let the desert rains happen and good things will spring up. Potential is waiting to blossom. You make the choice.
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