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Ascended Experience: The Legacy Of An Open Heart

Chris Stamp, original co-manager of The Who
and lead singer Roger Daltry
       There are second acts in life, if we create them.  The memorial service for Christopher Stamp, a colleague in psychodrama and the healing arts, at The Old Whaling Church in Sag Harbor, NY featured a fascinating mix of the players and stories that made up his astonishing life. There was rock and roll royalty – Roger Daltry was one of the speakers, just to give an example – talking about Chris' early career as co-manager of The Who. There were therapy clients who spoke about his passion for the work of recovery and colleagues whose lives were changed by their work with Chris in the great second act he wrote for his life, as a therapist and addiction counselor. There was powerful music. Kids – beautiful kids with beautiful British accents – reading poems to honor their grandfather. Stories.
    The Who’s music, which shaped my adolescence and college years and therefore shaped who I am is part of my consciousness and that happened because of Chris’ desire to do what no one else had done. He was one of two guys who made The Who into The Who. He founded Track Records which produced The Jimi Hendrix Experience and Tommy, the first ever rock opera.  It happened because of his desire to stretch himself far beyond any scripts written for him by somebody else.  What many of the speakers shared and what stayed with me after the memorial and I intend to carry with me is this: the thing about all the dimensions of Chris’ life is that he always sought and tried to create an ascended experience.

     As many of us are, I am aware that the desire for ascended experience is enough to transform your life, but the stresses and pressures of life – real or cooked up by my own worry – can start the litany of negativity that throws cold water on it.  But to seek the ascended experience is not to deny the down and dirty about life, as any psychodramatist will be the first to tell you.  It is about going through, not around, all that muck.  At the 2002 annual conference of the American Society of Group Psychotherapy and Psychodrama, Chris was part of panel I moderated about psychodramatists' work with New Yorkers in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks on The World Trade Center. It was an emotionally-charged afternoon, a great outpouring of pain. But in many ways our facing that down together created an ascended experience. Facing the truth can produce an ascended experience. At dinner with friends. Alone in front of a fire. These can all be ascended experiences. The thing is to show up for all of it. Give yourself over to it. Open your heart to it.  
Nick Wolff, LCSW, BCD, TEP
Nick Wolff is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Board-Certified Diplomate and Trainer, Educator and Practitioner of Psychodrama and Group Psychotherapy in private practice. He runs a weekly professional training group in action/experiential methods at Lifestage in Smithtown, NY.


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