Australian Compassion

Dr. Spielvogel, a man was sitting on a blanket at the beach. He had no arms and no legs.

Three women — an American, a Kiwi and a Australian — were walking past and they felt sorry for the poor man.

The American woman said to him, ‘Have you ever had a hug?’

The man said ‘No,’ so she gave him a hug and walked on.

The Kiwi woman said, ‘Have you ever had a kiss?’

The man said, ‘No,’ so she gave him a kiss and walked on.

The Australian woman came to him and said, ‘Have you ever been f**ked?’

The man broke into a big smile and said, ‘No.’

She said, ‘You will be when the tide comes in.’


I love grotesque humor. It delights me! My hee-hee personality gets very high and I become grandiose and I offend people.

I ran into a friend at a party a couple of weeks ago.

She said she hadn’t been feeling well.

“That’s normal after an abortion,” I said.

It would’ve been fine if it had been just the two of us but her boyfriend was along for the ride and it was not respectful of me to have said that, so I am very sorry.

I tend to swing between grandiose and ashamed. Grandiosity is what I use to fend off shame. Narcissism is my defense against shame. If I didn’t feel awash in this underlying shame, I wouldn’t need my grandiosity.

Guilt is what you feel for specific behaviors. Shame is what you feel for who you are.

I don’t like sitting with who I am when I don’t like myself, so I imagine myself to be someone grand. I start feeling good and I don’t care if other people are offended by what I say.

Then they hurt me when they become sufficiently offended and I feel ashamed and cast low.

I’ve gone through this rollercoaster all of my life.

I love to do shock humor without regard to the feelings of those around me and then I don’t like the consequences and so I resolve to do better, to become more considerate, so that others will embrace me rather that shun me.

What helps with my shame is by shining a light on it. As I am able to articulate my shame, it diminishes in severity. Shame needs isolation and secrecy to thrive.

I’m going to need surgery to fix my deviated septum. And that made me reflect, who would I get to give me a ride home from the hospital? There was no obvious person to turn to. That made me sad.

In 1998, I broke my wrist. I ended up walking to the Century City hospital for surgery. Coming out of anesthesia, I had a panic attack. I had never felt so alone in my life. I got a taxi home.

Afterward, I used that question as an interviewing technique — who would you ask to give you a ride to the hospital? Half of the people I interviewed said they’d take a taxi. They were that disconnected from others.

Now I look at my life and I realize I am one of those disconnected ones. I am no more bonded to others than I was in 1998.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been noted in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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