I read an article today in the online journal “The Atlantic”. Interestingly it was (re)posted by an ex primary school student of mine who has just received her PhD in Psychology from Cambridge University (OMG ….. where did the time go!)
I won’t go into the article but if you fancy a meaningful read then it is worth a look. It begins with a quote “it is the very pursuit of happiness that thwarts happiness”. It then goes on to suggest that happiness comes more from finding a meaning in one’s life more than in seeking ‘happiness’ fulfillment, fun, wealth etc. It is actually a story about Victor Frankl, an eminent Psychiatrist who survived the holocaust camps, and as I said is a good read.
But …… by the by, it got me motivated to write this post
So ….. being alive. What do I mean – of course it’s important to be alive isn’t it? Well, are you fully aware of the ridiculously high number of suicides annually all across the world? In Australia alone there were 2535 recorded suicides in 2012 ( the latest date for figures) …. and for every suicide there are 30 attempts. The population of Australia is something like 23 million. Did you also know that there is a surprisingly high rate of suicides directly following a diagnosis of cancer, or other fatal disease. Good doctors routinely recognise this and the good GP’s monitor patients carefully in the days following a confirmation of the C word.
Can anyone wonder? The thought of facing death is bad enough, but the thought of having to choose between a long shot attempt at alternative therapy or an excruciating program of chemotherapy (often many more than one) is scary beyond understanding for the non sufferer. Suicide may well seem a good way out. However it is a fact that life goes on after the ‘C’ confirmation. Life goes on for all around, and it goes on for oneself. Life is full of ups and downs – and surely we all realise that, no matter where we are – or think we are – on the ladder of life, problems are simply a fact of life. Let no-one tell you otherwise.
So whilst a cancer confirmation places a finiteness on our lives, it does not change the fact that we are still living it whilst we are here. We can choose – to have chemo or not, to go ‘alternative’ or not, to do nothing. Those are the personal decisions we can make – remember “Life is the sum of all our choices.” That is our freedom. We may have cancer but how we face it is our choice. It is still our body, and our mind and soul. We make the decisions. We are in charge. To be or not to be, to do or not to do. Our decision.I would suggest that if cancer makes a life a mess, then maybe it was a mess before. If life was good before cancer how is it not good now? It is going to be (probably) shorter than you had thought. There are probably going to be some bad times ahead. But today, now, this minute ……. how has it changed? It has only changed as we let it change. ……… I love Charlie, I love his take on life. But on this one he may have got it wrong!
So we come to the title – the importance of being alive. Being dead is an inevitability for us all eventually. No disputing that for sure. So we have to enjoy our time here – I think we would all agree on that too. Finding meaning, fulfillment, pleasure, love, in life is probably easier said than done, but one thing is certain – one has to be alive to do it.