Last week while Dan, my acupuncturist, was sticking needles into my eyebrows, he told me about one of his patients who had moved out of state. Recently the man called Dan for an appointment. “Oh, are you in town visiting?” asked Dan.
“No,” said the patient.
“Well, how do expect me to treat you? Are you going to send me a voodoo doll to work on?”
“No,” said the patient. “I was hoping that while I lay here on my couch, you can imagine that I’m laying there on your table, and stick needles where you think they should go. I’ll let you know if it’s helping.”
Dan was a little skeptical about this, but the man had been a good patient, and was perfectly willing to pay for this treatment. So Dan tried it. Amazingly, the treatment seemed to help his patient recover from a serious kidney infection.
“That’s great, Dan,” I told him. “You can be a pioneer in a whole new field of medicine, virtual acupuncture. You’ll get all the patients who are too squeamish to have real needles stuck into them.
Plus, think of the time and energy you’ll be saving people. They won’t have to waste gasoline, add to traffic congestion, or re-read old Yoga Today magazines in your waiting room.”
I told this story to my friend Jeff, who’s a housepainter. “Boy, I wish I could use that technique in my work. I could stay at home and keep an eye on the kids while I was painting somebody’s house.”
“Let’s try it on my house, Jeff,” I said. “Sue has been wanting to repaint our living room.”
“I just painted that last year!”
“I know, but she doesn’t like the color anymore. She thinks it’s too dark. Maybe you could virtually repaint it a lighter color. Then we wouldn’t have to disrupt the whole house again with paint fumes and furniture moving. Not to mention that annoying guy who kept taking coffee breaks and raiding my refrigerator.”
“I could still raid your refrigerator.”
“You could raid your own refrigerator, but pretend it’s mine. That way all the food will taste better.”
“I’m not sure that’s going to work.”
“Let’s just try it. What have we got to lose? But don’t tell Sue, ok? I want it to be a surprise.” So, Jeff virtually repainted our navy blue living room the lemon chiffon color that Sue had picked out of a sample book. The day he was done Sue told me she had changed her mind about painting the living room.
“It really doesn’t seem so bad, anymore. Maybe it’s because it’s spring and the light is changing, but it seems much brighter in here lately. It even smells better. Kind of lemony.”
Now I’m beginning to see a whole new world of virtual possibility:
• Virtual lawn care – Instead of having a Chemlawn truck come by once a month and spray poison on your lawn, just imagine that your lawn is healthy and full of lucious green grass.
• Virtual shopping – The complete shopping experience is available to you, and you don’t need a catalog or an internet hook-up to participate. Simply take a walk around your neighborhood, but imagine that you are at the local shopping mall. Feel free to browse, try things on, ask the sales clerk to bring out more styles and colors, or even try to bargain down the prices. When you’re satisfied with your selections give them your imaginary credit card and check out. Remember, if you get home and don’t like how things look in front of your mirror, you can always return them for a full refund.
• Virtual lawsuits – You can save $200 an hour plus a lot of time and aggravation if you take your petty grievances to a virtual lawyer. You can rant and rave about how unfair your boss, neighbor, or father-in-law is and then sue them for everything they’ve got. Your virtual lawyer is never too busy to take your calls. He’ll make motions, call witnesses, give his dramatic soliloquy to the judge and jury, and you’ll have the verdict decided before it’s time for dinner.
• Virtual cable TV – Instead of spending $40 a month and wasting hundreds of hours looking for something worthwhile to view, just sit down peacefully in a chair and imagine that you are watching the best show that has ever been written. Be sure to remember the highlights so you can share them tomorrow at the office watercooler.
• Virtual psychiatrist – the perfect person to visit if any of your friends or family ever says that you are virtually insane, which they are likely to do if they find out you’ve been trying any of the techniques recommended in this article.