Counselor's Corner . . .

 A different perspective of life as we know it

Fred Cavaiani

These past two weeks I have had the opportunity for new experiences in different places.  Last week I spent two days inside of a Capuchin Friary in Mt. Calvary, Wisconsin.  I attended the funeral of a priest friend and visited with Capuchin Friars whom I have known for years.  I got up early and recited Morning Prayers with the Capuchin Friars, had breakfast and dinner with them, conversed with so many friends whom I had not seen for years.  As I write this article I am in Fulton, Missouri, visiting our son, who teaches at William Woods University here in Fulton. This is another experience of new perspective in new places.

I am always inspired by the different perspectives of life that I experience in different places and new experiences. In Wisconsin meeting friends from a long time ago, I was impressed by the dedication and open-hearted attitudes of these elderly men who had remained Capuchin-Franciscans for so many years.  Watching some of my old professors warmly greet me with a welcoming hug and huge smile and then sitting down and sharing their enthusiasm for life helped me appreciate my history.  The warmth and welcoming of the younger Friars helped me appreciate even more the kind and compassionate spirituality that had been given to me by this wonderful group of dedicated men.  My two friends of many years who had traveled with me back to our origins also gave me an appreciation of long term friendships that always remain even in the midst of changes and differences. There is a sense of loyalty and caring that remain with us always when we have good friends who share the same history.  

In the small towns and rolling hills of Central Wisconsin there is a simplicity that challenged me to look at what is most important in life:  having a purpose and having good friends with you on the journey through life. My visit to this glorious school perched high on a hill reinforced this attitude as I visited with so many friends of the past who had such a positive influence on me.

A few days later my wife and I traveled to Missouri to visit the University where my son teaches and spend a few days with him.  I had preconceived ideas about Missouri and found the people here to be warm, friendly and caring.  I experienced such positive energy at the University as I looked at the artwork on the wall, visited the campus and drove around this small town of Fulton, Missouri.  Then we visited Colombia, Missouri, and the home of the University of Missouri. We were there during the game of Missouri and Georgia.  What energy all around us during this time! 

My wife and I traveled the last sixty miles on scenic back roads. Our GPS lady had a bit of a nervous breakdown so we found ourselves lost. We stopped at a restaurant in the midst of nowhere to get something to drink.   I went in wearing my Bluetooth.  The restaurant was filled with local farmers from this very rural area.  I asked for directions. The warmth and kindness of the people toward me traveling from a city culture and a different state and the great directions given to me by a very kind lady helped me realize that kindness and compassion are everywhere. We are all so similar in our deepest desires about life.

Seeing things from a different place and different perspective reinforced a simple thought: People are very much the same in all places: wanting a connection with other people and looking for a permanent meaning in life.  Everyone seems to want a personal connection and everyone seems to be looking for something permanently fulfilling.  In every restaurant and with everyone I met in Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri the same perspective seems to be shared by all.  Each person describes and acts on this desire in a little different way but everyone has the same message: a warm welcoming smile, a friendly hello, and a simple sharing of ideas.    This is what I experienced so profoundly these past two weeks.

I experience most people as looking for a positive connection.  I also feel constantly reminded that the men and women I meet on my journey through life are looking for a sense of happiness and well- being.  In many different ways someone seems to be expressing these two profound desires.  I stayed up late in Wisconsin sharing profound ideas about life and relationships.  I shared many ideas in Missouri with our son and my wife talking about life and teaching and relationships.  Observing the many positive relationships my son has made here in Missouri reinforced the perspective that we all hunger for the same principles of life.

Life, Love, Relationships and Permanence is deeply rooted within each of us.  No matter where we travel or whomever we might encounter, there will be a pattern in the conversation that will lead back to a theme that will contain something about LIFE, LOVE, and RELATIONSHIPS OR PERMANENCE.  It is a universal pattern and deeply rooted in the psyche of everyone. 

The biggest problem in life is that these four themes which are present everywhere and in everyone one can never be activated unless they are accompanied by Love, the second theme of life.  It is Love which helps us listen attentively to one another. It is Love that helps us embrace one another.  And it is love that gives us the energy to find something permanent that will never leave us in life.  I think this is why we find that in so many philosophies and theologies that the LOVE AND GOD are essentially connected. When they are disconnected we stifle any ability to have a positive life, a positive relationship and a positive permanence.

During these past two weeks I believe that I have met many people who have given me a new and simple perspective on LIFE, LOVE, RELATIONSHIPS AND PERMANENCE.  We can discover this perspective everywhere if we listen carefully to another person’s viewpoint with an open heart and mind.  It is a privilege to be writing this article here in Missouri just as it was a privilege to be Wisconsin last week.


Fred Cavaiani is a licensed marriage & family therapist and psychologist with a private practice in Troy.  He is the founder of Marriage Growth Center, a consultant for the Detroit Medical Center, and Henry Ford Medical Center. He conducts numerous programs for groups throughout Southeastern Michigan. His column in the Legal News runs every other Tuesday.  He can be reached at 248-362-3340.  His e-mail address is: and his website is