“What is to give light must endure burning”- Dr. Viktor Frankl
Viktor Frankl was a holocaust survivor and a physician who wrote a wonderful book called “Man’s Search for Meaning”. There’s a part in the book where he describes how survivors were after the holocaust. He describes how one survivor trudged through a field of flowers and when Viktor tells him to avoid stomping on them he says something to the equivalent of “after all I’ve suffered, this I am due”. And I thought that was entirely awful. But I see that happening to me.
What I fear is the hardness that suffering brings. I started this journey bright- naïve even. Cancer? Whatever. I was going to open and love all the way through it- and fuck it if I died then I died and at least I had tried to live my life bravely. And I gotta tell you I still like that attitude and that kid. He had a lot of balls and few brains. But I’ve just given myself my second injection of neupogen (this is a drug that helps stimulate my white cells to grow to help prevent infection). Almost instantly I start to sweat, in fifteen minutes I will have bone pain as my marrow starts to churn out more neutrophils. I’m tired. I’m in pain. I’m alone.
This is how it starts out for all of us. We all start out shiny, bright and new- and we dream and hope. And then life kicks us in the fucking balls. And so we sack up a few times and get kicked again. And eventually we stop sacking up. But that doesn’t mean the kicks stop coming- and if it does mean that then we’re totally fucked. It means life feels so bad for us it won’t even kick us in the balls. Then we stop feeling, we stop loving, we become sarcastic, ironic and burnt out. We stop believing that any type of meaningful change is possible- either in this world or in ourselves.
And this is all it takes for bitterness to set in. And when bitterness comes, hardness comes- and that’s when people who suffer become part of the cycle. Instead of liberating other people from the circle of shittiness I become another person who is shitty because I’m in pain. The origin of all anger and abuse is pain- and this pain I’m feeling makes me angry. It makes me angry for being alone, it makes me angry for the way life has turned out, it makes me want to rail that life isn’t fair and break into a Ziggy Peelgood’s and eat all the fries.
But you know what? Life isn’t fair. Life wasn’t fair when I got an awesome home and wonderful parents. Life wasn’t fair when I could afford to travel the whole world. And life wasn’t fair when some of the most wonderful people in the world loved me and others just watched. So now that life still isn’t fair but now seems to be working against me what will make the difference? What’s the solution?
The solution I think is to open and love more even though I suffer. To feel more compassion for others even though right now I’m not super stoked on my own life. And I think the reason to do that is because it will make me feel better. I don’t believe in altruism- I don’t think it’s real. I believe in selfishness- I want someone to love me because it’s in their best interest- not because it’s in mine. And even though my bones are beginning to ache, and I can almost see and feel the hole that this suffering is carving in my fucking soul, today and for this moment I choose to think about you. Reading this at your computer. I choose to think about how you’re feeling, what you’re thinking, whether you’re smiling or not. I wonder who you are- do I know you ? Are we close? What secrets do you keep that you don’t share with anyone? Are you happy? Are you loved? Does any of this matter to you? If it does, if all this does matter to you, then have a great day- and I Love you.