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  • Reverend James Squire

Dry Ice

The first time I ever heard of dry ice is when I needed it for a project for a science fair. I built a Wilson Cloud Chamber which is a way to see both waves and particles as a description of matter in Planck’s Law. You set a metal plate with a hole in the middle underneath a cylinder surrounded by two copper strips adhered to the cylinder that can be electrified with regular current. The whole mechanism sits on a square block of dry ice. When the copper bands are charged you can look down through the top and see a radioactive source (thumbtack scraped on a radioactive watch hour number). Coming out of it in a cloud are particles that change to waves that change back to particles. I never bothered to ask how dry ice which was the key ingredient in the experiment was made. I did, however, adhere to the directions not to touch it or you will stick to it.

Yesterday I found out more about dry ice in an article entitled, “Dry ice, the unsung hero of the Covid-19 rollout, explained,” by Tom Avril. I will summarize focusing on a particular word that he used. Dry ice is formed when pressure is applied to CO2 gas. It goes directly from a gas state to a solid with no liquid in between those steps. It is one of the reasons that it worked so well with transporting the vaccines. It also can maintain super low temperatures. Avril stated, “It gets its nickname from a chemical that is fairly described as sublime. It does not melt, but sublimates – going straight from a solid to gas, no messy liquid involved. And because the solid form has a temperature of negative 109 degrees Fahrenheit, it cools everything nearby like a champ.”

Sublimation, another variation of the word sublimates, is a very important process in counseling. In fact, it is needed to help a person move forward to achieve a goal of more wholeness and integration of the psyche and soul. Sublimation works by channeling unacceptable negative impulses into ones that are positive and socially acceptable.

A simple example is a student whose mother came to see me and said, “He is all yours. I can’t get him to do anything on time.” To make matters worse, he was standing right next to her. I was embarrassed for him. She was partly right! He waited to the last minute to do assignments and would get them in just under the wire. He loved to push deadlines to their limit, but he always met them.

In our meetings, I asked him why he always waited to the last minute. He wasn’t trying to drive his mother crazy. He liked the pressure. He liked knowing that he had get things done with not much time for wiggle room. What do you do with a person who loves the thrill of deadlines when that is probably not a good study habit in a high-powered secondary school environment? This student had heard “manage your time” from his teachers until he was dreaming about it. Liking the thrill of the deadline was a core piece of who he was so I didn’t want him to change that as long as he got things in on time and wasn’t being penalized.

To make a long story short to make a point, he is now an editor of a newspaper in Vermont and thinks that he has died and gone to heaven with deadlines galore. His mother was angry with me at first, but the deal was as long as he got his assignments in on time, I would support him in the thrill of victory that he found in this endeavor.

Stock brokerage firms know about sublimation. When I ask my former students, who were great athletes, what they enjoy in that field, they have a response that is pure sublimation. They like the money. They like helping others, but above all else they like the competition.

Few people want you to change a practice or a way of life that is at their core. They will resist and never move forward. Many, however, are interested in changing a practice that is working against them to something that is positive. My role is to leverage that piece in such a way that they see and experience how it can work for them and others around them. It’s what great presidents in the past such as Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt did and what Joe Biden is currently doing. He has taken his grief over the loss of his wife and daughter and most recently his beloved son, Beau, and sublimated it to be more caring, kind, and helpful to those who have experienced loss. Who better to go to Atlanta and be our Consoler in Chief for the community of Atlanta and the families of the six Asian women who were recently murdered?

Dry ice was the unsung hero of the Covid-19 rollout. Sublimation is the unsung hero of the counseling process. Maybe I will put some dry ice in the corner of my office. Perhaps someone coming to see me for help will ask the question, “What is that? Why is it there?” My response would be, “I thought you would never ask! Have you ever heard of sublimation?”

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