Finding Comfort Through the Three "C"s: Coping, Connection and Creating Meaning
Dr. David Pelcovitz
In this article, I am going to be discussing the three "C"s related to loss and bereavement. The first “C” is the “C” of Coping. In the last decade in particular, the psychology research has clearly shown that there is no one right way to cope. Very often, people will come to me and say, “I’m very worried about my husband. He doesn’t seem to be dealing with this loss. He lost his father, he lost his mother, and he doesn’t seem to be crying, he doesn’t seem to be talking about it.” or there will be variations on this theme in many different ways. often, men feel that their wives, daughters or sisters are crying too much, and vice versa, with the women being concerned that the men aren’t talking enough. But again, there are tremendous exceptions to this. I just want to share with you a few basic thoughts about coping, but what it boils down to is contained in a machlokes, a disagreement, in the Gemara, three times that I know of, between Rav Ami and Rav Asi on the verse in Mishlei of, “Da’agah b’leiv ish yasichenah” – if you have a worry in your heart, dampen it down. “Chad amar yasichenah mida’ato,” one way of seeing it is if you have a worry in your heart, push it down, don’t think about it too much, distract yourself. The other way is, if you have a worry in your heart, “yasichenah l’acheirim,” find somebody to whom you can talk about it, and talk to that person. Interestingly, our Rabbis don’t tell us that one way is better than the other. They don’t say that the opinion that says yasichenah l’acheirim is a better way to go than the distracter. The research shows us exactly this. Let us say a child, for example, has to have a difficult medical procedure. You are getting ready to give him this painful shot, this painful injection. Researchers have found that kids’ ways of coping go into two categories. one is distracters: they don’t want to know about it, they don’t want to think about it. They just want the game system to play with to get their mind off it. The other category is the kids who want to talk about it and want to know about it and do the research on it. They say, “Can’t I get a new doctor?” If you insist on still giving them the painful injection, they’ll want to do it themselves or help the doctor do it. Interestingly, if you don’t go according to their style, they fall apart. If you shove the game system into the hand of the attender, the one who needs to talk, the one following the “yasichenah l’acheirim” model, then you’re in trouble because basically that’s not his style. And if you shove the internet article about alternative procedures into the hands of the distracter, you are in trouble as well. Let me tell you a story that for me is my best way of understanding the importance of this concept and the take-home message on the “C” of Coping. I was in Israel during the height of the second Intifada, and I was giving a lecture at the Jerusalem Trauma Center where there was a group of about thirty to forty therapists who specialize in trauma. Interestingly, they know much more about trauma than I ever will. They needed an outsider because, “ein chavush matir es atzmo mibeis ha’asurim” – a prisoner cannot free himself from jail. You can be the biggest expert in the world in dealing with loss and dealing with grief and helping others through the stresses in their lives, but when it happens to you, you can’t free yourself from your own prison. So I was speaking there. In the middle of my talk, word came that there was a bombing in the Hebrew university cafeteria, and nine people were killed; seven of them happened to be Americans. So immediately – everybody in Israel knows everybody else – all these therapists were called out to deal with the aftermath of that horrible tragedy, and the only ones left in the trauma center were three therapists: the director, the assistant director and myself. And then another call came in. There was a camp in the middle of the country, and one of their counselors had been killed in this horrible bombing. The director of the center asked me if I could go with his assistant director and spend the day with the kids, tell them about the tragedy and help them deal with the aftermath of this loss of their beloved counselor. The assistant director and I got into her car, and we drove to the middle of the country. The director of the camp was waiting for us. He didn’t let us run the show; I should have known better. In Israel they are certainly not going to let an American tell them what to do! He immediately put me and my colleague in the corner, and he told the kids the horrible news. Then he told them, “Look, there are five coping rooms. One room is the room where you write letters to the parents of your beloved counselor about what a wonderful woman she was. Another room is an art room; express yourself artistically. The third room is the music room. The fourth room is the tefillah room, where you can pray. And a fifth room is the talking room. The kids were told they could go from room to room throughout the day – but not a single kid switched rooms. They divided themselves, of their own volition, equally between four of the five rooms. The one room that wasn’t picked, interestingly, was the tefillah room, probably because they were in a state of aninus, of such intense mourning; it was too soon to daven. The funeral had not even taken place yet. But a quarter of the kids spent the day talking to me and my colleague, a quarter of the kids wrote, a quarter of the kids did art, and a quarter of the kids did music. I learned an incredible lesson from this incident. A week later, as I remember it, I was back in the United States, and I was asked to give a talk to a group of people commemorating the first anniversary of 9/11. I told this story; to me it was an amazing, amazing story, and I learned a lot from it. There is “yasichenah” and there is “yasichenah l’acheirim.” A woman in the audience told me the following amazing story. She said that her father was a Vizhnitzer Chassid who was a bunkmate of Elie Wiesel in the concentration camp. In fact, her father was one of those boys in that famous picture of Elie Wiesel peering out with some of his fellow adolescents. Professor Wiesel had given a talk in Manhattan the week before, and her father said, “give him regards; he might remember me.” She waited on line after the lecture and gave regards from her father. Immediately, his eyes filled with tears and he said, “Your father isn’t sure if I remember him?! Didn’t he tell you how he saved my life?” And he told the following story: “It was a day that was horrible even by concentration-camp standards. The inmates were beyond endurance in terms of being beaten and starved, undergoing unbelievable suffering, as we have all heard. A group of Russian prisoners of war got hold of some rat poison. They were waiting on line, each taking a dose of rat poison and lying down to die. All of the adolescents in that section of the camp looked at each other, including Elie Wiesel, and decided that, ‘you know what, they are going to kill us anyway; let’s take matters into our own hands.’ They went on line behind the Russians. Dr. Wiesel said he fully intended on making those the last moments of his life. He was going to take the poison. ‘But,’ he said, ‘your father, who retained his faith even there, went to the side of the line and broke into the ancient Vizhnitzer niggun, “Ani ma’amin be’emunah sheleimah b’vias haMashiach,” I believe in ultimate redemption. Your father’s song broke our suicidal spell. one by one we left the line, and one by one we surrounded your father and joined him in singing the ani ma’amin.’ He finished by saying, ‘go home and tell your father, sheli shelach, anything that I have accomplished is in part because of his niggun.’” So that is the idea of the "C" of Copaing. Don't let anybody tell you the right way to cope. People have to find their own toolbox of coping mechanisms. It is never just one thing. There are times that it will be talking and times that it will be crying and times that it will be learning, and there are times that it is going to be very different. Spouses often have different styles, fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, often have different styles. The key is to remember that, as Rav Hirsch said, it is not “Keili, Keili, lamah azavtani,” Hashem, why have You abandoned me? Rather, the vowelization is “l’mah azavtani,” for what have You left me? We have to change from the why to the what. What am I going to do with this and how am I going to cope with it? And that is ultimately one of the most important lessons I have learned about bereavement. Interestingly, when in therapy, I am working with children who have gone through very tough times, be it bereavement, loss, or some kind of traumatic event, an accident that occurred to somebody they are close to, etc. We actually help them very concretely build up a toolbox of coping mechanisms. They talk about some upsetting event that has happened in their lives, or they watch a little film clip of something upsetting being depicted, and we then have them go to a table where we have thirteen different coping mechanisms. There are perfumes, different kinds of sports magazines, music players – you name it, we have it – different ways of either the “samech” of hesech hada’as, the distraction kind of coping mechanism, or the “sin” of yasichenah l’acheirim, of talking things out. Then they gather literally a toolbox of coping mechanisms; they usually settle on three or four that work best for them over the period of time that we work with them, and they become very mindful about what works for them when. There are two more points I want to make about coping before I end this section. one has to do with the fact that coping is often something that is a source of stress between husbands and wives. I alluded to that before, and I cannot emphasize enough how important it is that each member of a couple respect the right of the alternate coping mechanism because it is rare that couples grieve together or families grieve together the same way. The process of mourning may also be at a totally different pace for different people; a child’s pace of mourning is totally different than an adult’s pace of mourning. And in general, people will reach different points at different times. But I want to share with you a vignette and a thought. I have a colleague, his name is Dr. Bessel van der Kolk. He is one of the leading experts in trauma throughout the world. He once showed me the picture of a man’s brain; it was an FMRI, which is a brain scan you can take of somebody as they are experiencing certain emotions. This was an individual who was caught in the stairwell of the World Trade Center on 9/11. He was having a flashback of the worst moment of his life, when he was convinced that he was about to die, literally. One of the world’s tallest buildings was crumbling around him, and he was trying to run for safety. He showed me this picture of what it looks like when an individual is experiencing the worst moment of his life. Do you know what your brain looks like at that moment? Literally, the language centers of the brain are shut down; Broca’s area, which is the name of the language centers of the brain, is shut down. You are rendered speechless, but not just speechless, it is demimus. In Hebrew, the word demimus is a word reserved for total speechlessness, totally being without words. When Aharon Hakohen loses his sons tragically and suddenly, the words the Torah uses are “vayidom Aharon.” Not sheket, the typical term for quiet, as the Abarbanel says. Vayidom is because demimus is for total shutdown of language. Then, what Dr. van der Kolk showed me, which is the main point I want to make here on this component of coping, is that as he worked with this 9/11 survivor, and as he gave him words for his pain, literally lighting up the language centers of the brain, that is when healing came. As he engaged him in talking about exactly what happened and the meaning of what happened, that is when healing came. Now, this is not always with words. As I said before, sometimes it is with meaning, through learning or doing acts of chessed, or through somehow finding some other unique meaning. That is a very, very important point; this is the power of lighting up the language centers of the brain. Rabbi Charlop, in the early 1900s in Jerusalem, had a Haggadah called Mei Marom. And in it he says that slavery – going back to our days in Egypt – takes away our ko’ach hadibbur, our power of speech. When we as Jews gather around the table on Seder night, what is it called? Maggid. We are naming the monster. We are opening up our mouths and hearts, giving meaning to our history of losses and of suffering. That is the next point of coping I want to make. It is true that distraction is valid in its time. Talking is valid in its time. But ultimately, finding meaning through lighting up the language centers of the brain is something that everybody who goes through a loss has to find their own unique way of doing. Now, a word on tears: Imagine a four-year-old boy is lost in the supermarket. He cannot find his mother anywhere. He is walking around from aisle to aisle in a state of panic. If you had a picture of his nervous system at that point, you would see that he is now in fight or flight, a state of high physiologic arousal, but he is not crying. What happens the second he sees his mother? Now he’s safe. Totally illogically, he starts to cry. If you had a picture of his nervous system at that point, it is shifting over from fight or flight into a place of finding comfort. Ironically, tears are often an amazing, amazing source of comfort. The Mishnah says, “Al tenacheim chavercha besha’ah shemeiso mutal l’fanav,” don’t try to console somebody when his loss is very fresh, and literally, it’s before the burial. The Tiferes Yisrael says in his commentary something that makes no sense to the Western ear. He says adaraba, on the contrary, when he sees that you are not trying to comfort him, he will cry more. What does that mean? It doesn’t seem to make any sense. So let me illustrate this with a story and with a thought. The thought is that we now know that tears are often therapeutic. There are stress hormones released in tears. The story I want to share is an amazing story from Rabbi Lau, the former Chief Rabbi of Israel, currently Chief Rabbi in Tel Aviv. The following is about when he was a little boy and got out of the concentration camps: When these Jews were in the concentration camps, they were beyond tears. A group of surviving children, including Rabbi Lau, were taken into an orphanage in France, and a very loving substitute mother was the housemother in the orphanage. The word came that there was going to be a special kind of an assembly at which a group of French Jews was going to give these children some kind of gifts. The children heard about this, and they were incredibly angry. “What do you mean, you are going to give us gifts? We don’t want gifts from you! What we wanted was for you to save us from our suffering back then!” It was irrational maybe, to blame these French Jews, but they were incredibly enraged and said, “We’re going to boycott this ceremony; we are not going to go!” The housemother, whom they loved very much, said, “Please go; it is going to embarrass me if you don’t. You don’t have to accept the gifts, but just go!” So they went, but they said they were not going to accept any gifts. They heard what must have been boring speech after boring speech from the French dignitaries. Finally, for the last speech, an elderly survivor got up. And he looked at the children and said, “Kinder, taiareh Yiddishe kinder,” and he broke down crying; he could not go on. He just started crying. Suddenly, one of the child survivors started crying, then the next child started crying. Pretty soon there was a crescendo of loud, ceaseless sobbing coming from these children. The French didn’t know what to do. They couldn’t stop it and had no idea how to handle it. They were in a state of shock. But one of the oldest surviving children got up, and he quoted by heart the passage of atzamos yeveishos and then said: “until now, we were beyond tears. We were like dried-up old bones; we couldn’t cry. You came here to this gathering to give us gifts, and you just gave us the biggest gift you possibly could have given. This survivor gave us the gift of our tears. Thank you for changing us and delivering us from the atzamos yeveishos to a place where we are able to cry, the greatest gift of all.” We have just finished the “C” of Coping, and now, in a somewhat briefer way, I am going to talk about the “C” of Connection, which is extremely important. My favorite psychological study on connection is a great metaphor for what many people going through the grief process can immediately relate to, when they realize the power of not feeling alone during a funeral, shivah and beyond. The "C" of connection is about, in part what we learn from a study in which people are taken and put at the bottom of a hill. When they are at the bottom of a hill and are asked by the researchers to estimate the steepness of the hill, if they are alone, they tend to estimate the hill as being very steep. If they have somebody at their side, the hill looks less steep. The closer one is to the person at his side, the less steep the hill looks and the less tired he gets walking up the hill. That is the key of the “C” of connection. I heard a beautiful thought from Rabbi Ephraim Shapiro, who gave a talk to a group of adult survivors of cancer at Chai Lifeline. He talks about a word that we see many times in Nach. The Hebrew word for desolation is neshaamah – nun, shin, mem, heih – and under the shin is the vowel called a pasach, an “ah” sound. Interestingly, the very same letters, if pronounced neshamah, mean soul. The same word can go from desolation to soul. What is the key to going from desolation to soul? Think of neshaamah, desolation, which has the pasach, the “ah” sound. To convert it into a soul, the neshamah, you replace the pasach with a kamatz, the “uh” sound, so now you have a little line running perpendicular to, supporting, the pasach. A little bit of support is what brings us from desolation to support, from desolation to neshamah, a place of feeling spiritual and reconnected. Death takes us away often from connection. That is why the brilliant wisdom of Judaism in terms of how to deal with the different levels of mourning is amazingly, amazingly powerful psychologically, as we gradually reconnect to the community in deeper ways through the various stages of grief and grieving. We go from, ultimately, a gradual withdrawal, to the end of the year, when we achieve a gradual reconnection to the world. Two points I want to make about the psychology of connection: Number one is that you have to be assertive about knowing how to ask for the right kind of connection. Very often, people give the wrong connections at the wrong time, and we have to learn how to ask for what we need. Six months after 9/11, there was a needs-assessment group that OHELput together in their offices with a number of Jewish families who lost family members in the World Trade Center and the plane crashes that led to the collapse of the World Trade Center. OHEL was coordinating, through Project Liberty, the mental-health services. And they asked members of the Jewish community who had direct loss, “How can we be most helpful to you in organizing services?” The number-one request of these bereaved individuals who suddenly lost fathers, sons, mothers, daughters, husbands, wives, was pretty much the same: “Help us negotiate the right kind of connections.” At the beginning they were often drowning in the chicken soup of love and support; that was overwhelming. They didn’t quite know how to handle it. But then, as often happens, starting six months later, seven months later, eight months later, they noticed that people were avoiding them. One woman mentioned that she would be walking down the street in her neighborhood, and she would clearly see people who were old friends of hers from before, who crossed the street to avoid her. Not because they were bad people, but because they were uncomfortable and didn’t know how to relate to her now that the initial shock was gone. An extremely important part of converting from desolation to soulfulness, from neshaamah to neshamah, is the ability to learn how to ask assertively for different kinds of help. Sometimes, you just need somebody to be at your side. Sometimes, you need somebody who is going to be there to talk to you. Sometimes, you are going to need somebody to give you concrete kind of help. But the most important point I want to make about connection has to do with the role of the community in knowing how to titrate out, how to measure out, the right kind of support. I will tell you a story from my practice. I was seeing a boy who had lost his father a number of years before I saw him. I wasn’t seeing him because of bereavement; he was doing fine. By the way, if g-d forbid a child loses a parent, the best predictor of how well that child will do is how well the surviving parent is doing in being there for the child in a consistent, loving kind of way. Not easy to do that initially, but over the long haul that’s the key predictor. This boy was going to a very orthodox yeshivah, and the family was very actively observant. He was coming to me for a totally different reason, and I don’t even know why I asked him this, but I said, “Tell me what your Shabbos is like in your house.” He said, “Let me tell you what happens. Friday night I’m in my room, I have my headphones on, and I’m watching television.” I said, “What about your mother?” He said, “oh, she’s in her room crying.” And I said, “And what about your other siblings?” “They’re all in their rooms. I don’t know what they’re doing. They’re probably listening with their headphones to different music or whatever.” I said, “But your family is observant. They don’t do that kind of stuff on Shabbos. And what about shul, what about kiddush?” He said, “Shul?” and laughed. “I can’t sit next to my father anymore. I don’t know where to sit. I – I – I have no place to be in shul; I don’t go to shul anymore on Shabbos.” I said, “And what about making kiddush for the family? You’re the oldest son.” He laughed at me again and said, “No, my mother cries because it’s just a reminder to her of the loss.” I said, “What about meals? Aren’t you invited for meals?” He said, “No.” I got his permission to contact his mother; I called his mother. She felt terrible, but she said, “Yeah, it’s all true, it’s all true. But frankly, at the beginning, after the loss of my husband, I was inundated with invitations, and I kept saying no because I wasn’t ready for it. Then, when I was ready, about six months later, the invitations had dried up.” So I got permission to make two phone calls, to my patient’s rabbi and to the principal of his school. They live in a wonderful community; that’s all it took. His rabbi immediately arranged for him to have somebody to sit next to and for the invitations to come. They were constantly invited to meals after that every Shabbos, and the head of his school made sure that all of the students in the school invited this boy. It took care of the problem completely. We have to keep in mind that after the initial natural outpouring, one has to know how to recruit the right kind of support. It changes over time. And community leaders need to learn how to be quarterbacks to keep checking in. one last quick vignette. Two years after Hurricane Katrina, there was a grant that Mount Sinai Hospital got to work with clergy people, for which I was invited to be the psychologist. one of the rabbis in that area told me the following story, and with this I will end the “C” of Connection. He said that Friday night in his synagogue, a twenty one-year-old boy whom he hadn’t seen since Katrina came to shul. He gave him a big hug and said, “We’re so happy to have you!” and everybody in shul gave him a warm hello. That Sunday morning he got a call from this congregant, whom he thought had left; the congregant shared the following: “You know something? I had felt totally disconnected from everybody. My parents left the neighborhood. I sort of dropped out from going to shul anymore. I felt totally alone in the world, and I decided to kill myself. But I figured I’d say goodbye to some of the people I knew in the old shul I went to growing up. And when you and everybody else asked me, ‘How are you doing?’ and gave me a hug, it renewed my sense of connection in the community.” Then he continued, “Rabbi, I want you to know that your question, ‘How are you doing?’ and the accompanying hug saved a life!” The third and final “C” I want to talk about is the “C” of creating meaning. It’s interesting. Rav Schwab, I think quoting Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch, says that the Hebrew word for comfort, nechamah, doesn’t really mean comfort. If you look in the Torah, the first time the word nechamah appears is at the very end of parshas Bereishis. g-d is looking down on the world and it says, “Ki nichamti ki asisim,” sort of a reconsideration about having created man. Throughout the Torah, the word nechamah is really a shift in perspective, Rabbi Schwab says. “Pen yenacheim ha’am v’shavu Mitzrayimah” – Lest the nation reconsider and return to Mitzrayim. Again, the word means a shift in perspective. What does that mean? It means that over time, as people find meaning in their loss – and it takes a while, sometimes it happens quicker and sometimes it happens slower – it’s often one of the most powerful sources of coming to terms with the loss. It varies; nobody can tell you how to handle it. The Talmud tells us that, “Im ira davar ra,” if something bad happens to someone, what should his response be? “y’fashfeish b’ma’asav” – he should examine his ways. After you do the first line of response, of seeing if there is something deficient in your observance of learning Torah and you don’t find anything, the answer is that you do a self-examination. You look for what meaning it has to you. our commentaries say – or they don’t say, maybe that’s really the more important issue here – what the answer is. They say you have to do your own internal self-examination. That’s what the word pishpush means; y’fashfeish is that you literally do this cheshbon hanefesh, this internal kind of self-examination, to determine what your source of nechamah is going to be, what your source of shift in perspective is going to be. Let me tell you a quick thought that I experienced at a Chai Lifeline retreat where we were discussing a medrash on the passage, “Hashem tzaddik yivchon” – Hashem tests righteous people. The medrash gives two analogies. one analogy is that when righteous people are tested, it’s like what a barrel maker does. Ultimately, only the soundest barrels are used; only the soundest barrels can withstand tests. According to this way of thinking, in fact, when somebody is going through very tough times in life – a tough loss, tough illness in a family member – it’s like being a barrel; if you’re being tested this way, it’s because g-d thinks you can withstand it, and g-d thinks you’re a righteous person. The problem is that many people are offended by that imagery. In a Chai Lifeline retreat we have parents whose children are seriously sick or g-d forbid have lost a child, and they say, “My child should suffer because I’m such a righteous person? I’d rather be a bad person.” The other analogy used in that medrash is not to a barrel, but to flax. In the process of making flax, the more you hit the flax, the more strengthened the flax becomes. The very nature of the production of flax is strengthening through suffering. According to that way of thinking, the meaning of going through loss is that it strengthens you. In Tehillim it says, “Ki nafalti, kamti. Ki eishev bachoshech, Hashem ohr li” – Because I fell, I got up. Because I sat in the darkness, Hashem is a light unto me. The following is a magnificent, magnificent medrash on these words; they are what I think are some of the most beautiful words in the Hebrew language and are very well known: “Ilu nafalti, lo kamti,” if I never fell down, I never would have gotten up. “Ilu yashavti bachoshech, lo hayah ohr li,” if I never sat in the darkness, I would never have appreciated the light. That second version, many, many more people find comforting. In all the psychological research, finding the growth-inducing properties of going through tough times is associated with comfort. Rav Yoshe Ber Soloveitchik used to talk about two approaches to suffering in life, yi’ud versus goral. Goral means that you are like a log floating on the river at the mercy of the current. You’re passive. Bad things happen to you maybe because you’re unlucky. Yi’ud means that you’re a person of destiny. It’s happening to you because this is your destiny; you’re going to grow through this. In a fascinating recent publication, a man by the name of Dr. Salovey, who is the current new president of Yale university, wrote a paper about three studies looking at what’s essentially yi’ud versus goral, saying that if you have this post-traumatic growth approach – I grow by going through tough times – you do much better. Do you know who this Salovey is? His name is short for Soloveitchik. Cousins! Not necessarily an observant cousin, but they think the same way. They come from the same dynasty. Amazing; I was blown away when I saw it! one day I want to send an e-mail or letter to Dr. Salovey to see if I could share with him some of the thinking of his illustrious cousin Rav Yoshe Ber Soleveitchik. But the bottom line here is that there are two streams of thinking. In Jewish thinking, we’re encouraged to see loss and suffering as flax, as the darkness leading to the greater appreciation of light. In psychological research, all the new studies are showing the same thing. It’s the key ingredient to resilience. And, in terms of the bottom line of discovering meaning, everybody has to find their own way, at their own pace. Sometimes it may take years before a person can really find their own post-traumatic growth in response to a loss. We can’t undo a loss. It’s there; a death is something that’s permanent. But we can find perspective. I’ll just end this final “C” with one of my favorite parables, a wellknown parable from the Dubno Maggid. There was a king who had a crown. In the center of the crown there was a diamond, and it was known throughout the kingdom that this diamond was the biggest and best in the world. It was bigger than the Hope diamond. one day, the king woke up and found a flaw that had developed right down the center of the diamond. He was spooked by it and saw it as a terrible omen. He put a call throughout the kingdom saying, “If anybody can fix this flaw in the diamond, I will make him wealthy beyond his wildest dreams!” People came from all over the world, and they couldn’t fix the flaw in the diamond. A flaw in a diamond is something that can’t really be fixed. Finally, an elderly Jew came with an engraving tool and engraved magnificent leaves around the flaw, which now became the trunk of the tree, to make the diamond even more beautiful than it was before. That’s the key. The key is flax. Flax is about understanding that through our losses we grow, we become deeper people. Now, I must add that at the Chai Lifeline retreat there were some people who were more comforted by the barrel analogy. There was one couple in which the wife was only comforted by the barrel analogy. The husband was infuriated by the barrel analogy, and he was only comforted by the flax analogy. You know what? They were both right!