I met Harvey in the fall of 1980 in Massachusetts, USA. I was eighteen years old and struggling with some pretty heavy self-destructive patterns.

I heard about an "Open Questions" evening that would be held at one of Harvey's ten-day teachers' and leaders' workshops. Skeptical of all good intentions, all people, and all hope, I went to see who this man was who had such outrageous opinions about life, whose "followers" seemed hell-bent on making me cry, who believed in good even though I didn't. I had to challenge this man on what I perceived his notion that all the problems in the world were based on undischarged distress. What did he know? He made me mad!

I rode to the workshop in someone's full car and was petrified the entire trip. I knew everything in my life was about to change and there was nothing I could do about it. I trembled.

When I walked into the workshop and saw Harvey, he was a much older man than in the picture on the back of The Human Side of Human Beings. He was counseling someone who was having a huge session. Whew! When he was done, he took questions and then said he wanted newcomers to introduce themselves. Trembling inside but hardening myself not to show it, I gave my name and where I was from. He asked me, "Why aren't you here at this workshop?" I answered, "I don't have any money." He pulled out a wad of bills and asked me how much I needed. I looked at him with tears of disbelief and registered for the workshop.

The remaining workshop lasted from Tuesday to Sunday. I cried the whole time. Harvey counseled me a couple of times in front of the group of over one hundred and twenty people. I couldn't believe this man. Who was this man who could look deep into my soul, tell me things I had never heard before in all my life, and reduce me to gut-wrenching sobs that yielded a self I had never felt? Who was this man who could hold me so close with comforting, empowering words about my inherent greatness, beauty, and brilliance, meanwhile enjoying my intense releases of pain?

At the end of the workshop I cried as I hugged him good-bye. I truly believed I would never see him again. Something so good could only be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. He made me promise to call him once a week. I promised but knew I was lying. I couldn't let myself count on anyone that much-not even this man who could counsel countless people back-to-back while an awestruck room watched person after person transform.

Even though I didn't call him, I thought about him endlessly. I continued counseling and became more and more adept at it. He inspired me to be like him. I wrote him a letter of my triumphs in the spring of 1981. He wrote me back.

I saw him again that fall. This time I came to the workshop for the whole ten days. Thrilled to see him again, although I could not show it, I sat near the front, soaking up everything I could, crying again through the whole workshop. Marveling, studying, longing, envying, celebrating, and changing, I made a deep commitment to learn everything I could about what this man had figured out.

Every year I went to this workshop. To see his face light up with joy when he saw me arrive was one of the moments I lived for. That and soaking up his attention and brilliant thinking.

I fashioned my counseling after his; imitated his voice tones, postures, and facial expressions. I wanted to be a master like him, to impact people's lives like he did. I threw myself at my clients with everything I had, knowing my own discomfort mattered less than their re-emergence. My counseling skills blossomed, my thinking expanded, my horizons opened, and my life changed dramatically.

I know that the vision I have has come from the seeds of attention he planted in me-seeds of love and healing that grew on a fertile soil of hope . . . hope I had forgotten I had. The vision I harvest now can only be credited to one who saw me worthy of sowing, a man who saw me as I truly am: a brilliant, talented, powerful, effective woman. He touched my life and permanently altered its course. He awakened in me possibilities I could've never imagined for myself. He called them out of me because he knew they were there. He knew those qualities were there in every person.

My life will never be the same because Harvey taught me how I could love other people with the power of attention and contradicting their distress.

Those of you who never experienced being with Harvey, I urge you to order his videotapes, audiotapes, and literature and soak in what he wanted us to learn and understand about humans. I also encourage you to discharge on his death. Notice how he has impacted your life through Co-Counselors and through his literature.

I will continue to work on his passing.

Patsy White
Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Last modified: 2015-07-17 00:29:44+00