Man’s Search for Meaning, Part 2
Richard Rohr says that we have to get the shape of God right. Everything else can come after that.
Along those same lines, perhaps I’ve been a little too dismissive of the fighting metaphor when it comes to dealing with this little thing I have.
As I wrote yesterday, my therapist suggested I read Man’s Search for Meaning. For those who haven’t read it, I would describe it as a book about the psychological challenges of those who lived through the Holocaust. If anyone disagrees with that assessment, feel free to leave a note at the end of the blog. I was a bit discouraged by the notion that my therapist thought I should look towards one of the greatest horrors perpetuated on mankind in order to deal with my current existential crises, but after reading half the book I understand why.
I had to stop reading last night after I finished a section on “Provisional existence.”
Provisional- arranged or existing in the present, possibly to be changed later.
Frankl goes on to define life in the camps one step further. He calls it a “Provisional existence of unknown limit.” The ‘unknown limit’ part of that sentence provided the major challenge, because people in the camps had no idea how long this ‘provisional existence’ would last. And that a person who could not see the end of a struggle was “unable to aim at an ultimate goal in life.”
If a person doesn’t have an ultimate goal in life, they run the risk of everything becoming pointless. And everything being pointless is a slippery, slippery, slippery slope.
Last month I went and got a second opinion from an old doctor of mine, and he told me about this clinical trial I was eligible for. As we were discussing it I made a joke, as I am wont to do, about how I wanted to be cured! “And if this was going to do that then sign me up!” My old doctor does not share my sense of humor, and made a point of saying that he was not suggesting the trial nor my current regiment was going to cure me. I understand why he said that, but hearing it was a bit of a punch in the gut. I made another joke and we quickly moved on.
For the past month I haven’t been able to get that notion out of my head. That I might have to be on this medicine forever. That this thing is something I have to manage as opposed to overcome. Reading Frankl’s words about a Provisional Existence of unknown limit hit me right between the eyes. I recognized what I’ve been feeling for the past month.
PLEASE NOTE- I do not view life as pointless! Far from it! I am maybe happier now than I’ve ever been in my life. I love my teaching, I love writing everyday for you all, I love my fiancé and my family and these past few days the weather has been wonderful. But I also believe in what Richard Rohr says about getting the shape of God right. I think I need to get the shape of my relationship with cancer right as well.
That’s when this idea of the fighting metaphor popped back into my head. Maybe I was too quick to dismiss it. I was influenced by my hatred of the notion that people who die from cancer have somehow lost. But if you’re engaged in a battle, at least you’re trying to win. Trying to win is a different mindset from managing a condition. It feels more hopeful. More positive. More willing to take chances in order to overcome.
So I’m not saying I’m officially back on the trying to win the war train, but I am saying that I went Garner’s Naturals and spent $74 on supplements. I got a fancy new hair cut. And while I’m a big believer in living in the moment and being where my feet are, perhaps having some long term plans are an important part of the healing process as well.
Guess now I’ve got to figure some out.