Notes from an afternoon with Jerry Bump
November 23, 1999
I am on the way back from Professor Jerry (Jerome) Bump's house.
I woke up about 5:30 in the morning, worked on my web pages for a couple of hours, then went back to sleep. When I woke up it was 11:30 and I had told him I would see him around 11. So I called him to let him know I was running late.
Driving to his place I went out 2222 for a while. A road that reminds me of Karen for several reasons which I will just mention in passing: Robyn wanting me to drive faster; the time by the creekbed where I promised Karen I would never tell Ann about us; and going over to her mother's boyfriend's house, who lives in a expensive home in the hills which he bought with insurance money from the death of his son; and the time I met Karen after spending the night with Marine in Venezuela. And being near highway 183 rmo Glen and Lorraine Palmer's house, two friends of Ann.
Btw, it is 4:00 now and traffic is already stopped up. As I drove through the hills out side of Austin, what Texans call the hill country, I felt saddened by the number of trees that were being cut down to make room for more and more housing developments. I thought of my friend Brad who is developing land and how he might unknowingly be contributing to the death of what made Austin such a special place.
As I got closer to Dr. Bump's house, I saw more clearly the contrast between the old Texas and the new Texas. The old Texas had ranch and pasture land, with a few local barbecue stands along the way. The new Texas is housing communities, McDonalds, lakeview mansions, traffic jams and golf courses. When I turned down Jerry's road I felt a little envious that he was able to get 23 acres of land where he did. Then I realized it was too late for this area. There were too many people moving in too quickly. It reminded me of my desire to buy land in Quebec or New Zealand, or maybe Australia.
(I see a Don Pablo's restaurant and I wonder if that is the name of the place where I complained about the chairs once with Karen. Then I drive by a huge new church.)
When I got to his house I was greeted by two barking dogs. I was hoping he would come to the door before I would have to decide whether to open the fence gate. When I didn't see him, I made my decision. The dogs seemed safe enough so I reached out hesitantly to see what they would do. The were sniffing my hand just ad he opened the door. Partly to show him I wasn't afraid, I opened the gate and started in, my fear now focussing on whether the dogs would run out the gate as I came in. My fears quickly passed and I shook hands with Jerry and went inside the house where he showed me that his wife has set plates for lunch. I felt a little bad for being an hour and a half late, and then worse when he said his wife couldn't stay to meet me.
We sat and talked for a bit, then he invited me outside to walk around the property. We saw his horse, Pied Beauty, and then we walked over to his cemetery where his former horse and pets of were buried. Then we found his longhorn cow which at about 800 pounds was huge to me, but which Jerry said was only about 1/3 the weight of some other cattle he had before.
Here now are my notes that I made on my cassette, with his later corrections and additions, as I drove away after our time together. (Shared with his permission)
-- He went to a Catholic school; was raped by a man at age 4.
-- His mother got pregnant at age twenty, he got a woman pregnant at age 20, and his daughter got pregnant at age twenty.
-- He said he believes in "familial karma" in the sense that problems get passed down to the next generation if no one solves the problem and puts a finish and closure on it. He said he believes when his daughter offered her baby up for adoption in a beautiful, emotional and open ceremony she put an end to this family issue.
-- He has his college students sit in the middle of campus and focus on a tree or something from nature as everyone else rushes by. He said he asks them to just focus on the unity and oneness of nature, which is safe in the sense that he can't get in trouble for doing anything religious or threatening to the psychology professors. He told me it is amazing what one hour of that will do for the students.
-- He once corrected someone's grammar while working at a construction job and the guy punched him in the face. As Jerry said, "There was some non-verbal communication of feelings!"
-- He tried to create a new course which included feelings and
emotions in one of his English classes and the university
administration killed the class. He said he found out when he received a letter from the assistant dean saying the
class was canceled. Then a psychology professor on the Dean's committee wrote a "four page, single spaced attack" on the course proposal.
When he asked to read the letter so he could reply, they refused to allow him to even see it. He has written an
article about this experience which is currently in press:
"Teaching Emotional Literacy." In Writing and Healing: Toward an Informed Practice. Ed. C. Anderson and M. MacCurdy. Urbana: National Council of Teachers of English, 1999, 28 MS pages.
-- He said the publisher decided to print the article because they believed it was important for others to see what they might face when they try to address a hot topic like personal feelings. He added that it was important for others to know they are not alone, because that is what your opponents want: for you to feel alone and as if you are the only one who is not being a team player. Shortly before this happened he won a teaching award, the only teaching award given out by students rather than faculty.
-- He said although he is a mile from the lake he can still hear the powerboats with 800 horsepower motors designed for oceans, not lakes. He said people come out, "get tanked up, go boating and kill each other." He told me of the story of some sorority girls who got drunk and were on a boat run by someone who was high on drugs and alcohol. He came to close to the shore, hit a rock and one of the girls was thrown into the mountainside, instantly killing her.
-- He said Sydney, Australia was one of the most beautiful cities in the world and New Zealand was one of the most beautiful countries.
-- He said he started learning about feelings when he took his daughter to therapy at age 15 for alcoholism and the therapist wanted the whole family to come in. He said the first question they asked was to name your feelings. Before then he had become a "loyal member of the church of reason" so this was hard for him initially, and that he found in group exercises some intellectuals were never able to do it. Some very intelligent people would talk on and on about their thoughts and opinions and beliefs, but couldn't name their feelings. -- He told me about an exercise he has used where people practice sending love and positive feelings to someone else, through a third person whose back is turned towards the group. He said participants are often convinced there is some kind of force in emotion, some kind of actual energy, regardless of where we want to say it comes from. He said some people were not able to receive the love from others.
-- We talked about Jerry Jampolski's book, "Teach Only Love," in which the author says we have just two emotions: love and fear. While Dr. Bump thinks now this is a bit simplistic, he still got a lot out of the concept and even took a course based on Jampolski's ideas ten times because he got so much out of it.
Jerry later supplied me with this information: The course is called "The Foundations Course" at Centers for Attitudinal Healing across the country. It is part of their volunteer training. The course was very important to him because it focused on love and other positive emotions rarely dealt with in therapy and because it was all 'experiential' exercises: not just talking about but doing. The person who usually teaches the course in Austin is Carolyn Blankenship, of Austin (Wife of Monty Northrup). The person who oversaw the experiential exercises for dealing with the so-called negative emotions in his life was Mary Jo Bjornistal, also of Austin (Her company was called Options). Another source for experiential exercises of this type would be the chief therapists at In-patient Centers for Chemical Dependence.
-- He has a pile of rocks behind his house and sometimes he will throw them to burn off anger. He also releases tension by chopping wood with a hatchet while he shouts out whatever comes to mind. He had me squeeze his two fingers together, telling me to squeeze as hard I as could, to show that you could release energy directly towards someone without hurting them. I tried this later on my own two fingers, squeezing a little harder than I did with him, and I found out it does hurt a little, so I would suggest just squeezing one (by making a fist around it and leaving your thumb on the outside of your fingers.)
-- He said it was alright to weblish details about his personal life, in fact he had gone on TV to tell about being raped when he was a child. He believes that each time we tell our story it has a healing affect on us and it releases the unhealthy energy we have been holding inside.
-- He said Goleman's book brought legitimacy to the work that he was already doing with the students and their emotions.
-- He told me of a study done with rats where they are raised on crushed glass which hurts their feet. When they had an option to go over to a cage with a normal they returned to the cage they were used to. And he told me of another story of a polar bear that was transferred to the Denver zoo before they had a place ready for it, so they put it into a small cage where it paced back and forth. When later they gave it much more space of its own, it continued to pace back and forth as if still in the small cage. We then talked about the story of a man who put a pumpkin seed in a glass bottle and how the pumpkin grew to fit the shape of the bottle. Then Jerry said, but with a family system, the child takes on the psychological shape of the parent's glass bottle. In other words, metaphorically, this would mean the next generation would grow to be the shape of the bottle, without actually being inside any bottle at all, or even knowing the parent pumpkin was ever in a bottle, or that there was anything abnormal about this.
-- So that ends the notes from our conversation. We talked about many more things, but that is a bit of a sample. I felt inspired, encouraged and stimulated when the afternoon was over. Oh, yes, he also told me that when he was in college, in 1963, he was kicked out of Amherst for having a girl in his room! Another student reported him and the police unlocked his door and walked in without knocking around 1 in the morning and he was given 24 hours to leave the school.
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