I walked up the stairs to the tiny apartment located in a quiet neighbourhood of Vienna. He opened the door for me and smiled. It was his residence and office, snug and comfy, with a view of the street, people walking by going about their everyday chores.
Leaving my coat on the hanger, I plopped myself down on the couch. He sat down on his chair, notepad and pen in hand, and nodded.
“It’s getting too much, Herr Doktor!”, I burst out. “I can barely sleep at night! These strange thoughts and ideas keep running through my head. I feel anxious all the time, lethargic throughout the day and I get irritated at the smallest things!”
He observed me keenly, as if pondering over my rant. The room was quiet, for what seemed like an eternity, before he spoke.
“What do you read these days?”
I thought over this question. I had been reading a lot. “Die Welt, among others. Just this morning in fact, there was this article about Palestine. And there’s this new party that’s standing for elections in Germany. And our government is planning to increase city taxes to tide over their budget deficit. They say it’s going to be a really cold winter this year!”
He let out a “Hmm”, although it was a long “Hmmmmmm” almost like the buzz of an insect.
“I see it all the time, my dear. It is a common condition. As society has progressed, we have become accustomed to being constantly bombarded with news and happenings. It is what I call the “information overload”. We are addicted to it, drawn into it, to the point that we withdraw ourselves from the simple joys of real life.”
I looked at him in desperation. It sounded like a dreadful disease. “Oh please help me, Herr Doktor! How do I cure myself?”
“Do not worry. There is a simple trick and if you practise it every day, you may never need to see me again!”
I was overjoyed and looked at him earnestly.
“I want you to lie back on the couch. Close your eyes. Take a long deep breath. Inhale. Exhale. Imagine the setting sun over the horizon. Feel the warmth of its rays on your cheek. You are a white swan in a calm and gentle river. You feel the cool water beneath your soft feathers. You are one with the river. You flow where it flows. You are at peace and one with nature.”
As I experienced his words flowing through me, a tremendous weight seemed to have lifted off my shoulders. My mind was empty, but it was calm and content. I heaved a sigh of relief.
“Do this twice everyday, right after you awaken and before you go to bed.” he instructed.
“Thank you, Herr Doktor! I shall never forget this!” I beamed at him as I let myself out.
Walking down the stairs, stepping into the cool evening breeze, I felt the courage to experience the world afresh. 1928 was going to be a good year.
I looked up at the building and saw Dr. Freud standing by the window of his tiny apartment. I waved him a cheerful goodbye and he waved back.
Author’s note: Perhaps the information overload of today – incessant updates from social media, emails and messaging apps – existed in the old days as well, in a different form.
Pictures from a visit to Vienna, Austria – city streets and Alte Donau (Old Danube) River. Summer 2016 / Huawei Honor 7 mobile.