“On Tuesday I got off the wheel” is the last line of a poem by Mark Nepo titled Thinking like a Butterfly. It was given to me by a friend after I told her the following story:

Eleven years ago, a TV series was shown on Israeli TV. It was called Couples Therapy. It followed three “grey-haired” couples therapists, each employing their own method, while working with a couple. There were seven episodes following the therapists over the course of their journey with the couple. I was one of the grey-haired couples therapists.

Yumi and I happened to be in Israel when the program aired. On the day after the first episode was shown, Yumi and I were in a cafe. A woman approached us. She asked: “Are you the woman who was on TV last night.” I nodded yes, and she added: “You must come to meet my husband. He doesn’t usually stay up to watch programs on TV. But once he saw you, he was hooked.”

This kind of attention followed me around over the next two weeks wherever Yumi and I went.

And then something happened. Yumi and I were sitting in a restaurant and nobody came…. I looked around… and nobody came. Unbeknownst to me, fame had become a hunger.

And so here is Marc Nemo’s poem:

Monday I was told I was good.
I felt relieved.
Thursday I was ignored.
I felt invisible.
Wednesday I was snapped at.
I began to doubt myself.
On Thursday I was rejected.
Now I was afraid.
On Saturday I was thanked for being me.
My soul relaxed.
On Sunday I was left alone
till the part of me that can’t be
influenced grew tired of
submitting and resisting.
Monday I was told I was good.
By Tuesday I got off the wheel.

That day in the restaurant I received the gift of being left alone. It gave me the space to become aware of a new hunger in me. It was a hunger I had not known before. It was the hunger for fame.

The quietness of no-special-attention-paid-to-me gave me the opportunity to make a conscious choice. I saw inside of me the powerful part of me that cannot be influenced by the outside world. From my grounded, centered core, I could make a genuine choice: I could get off the wheel.

And so… I got off the wheel.

I was free!