Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Meaning of Life

I believe that things happen because they happen. We weren’t put on Earth for a purpose. You’re born, you do your best, you die.

This is not a popular point of view. Every writer and TV personality you’ve heard of disagrees, including several with a medical degree. Yet I’m convinced that searching for an explanation is the best way to understand natural phenomena but useless as a personal philosophy.  

“I’ve got cancer!!!...  Why me?” This is the first question almost everyone asks. If you believe the universe (God for those less cool) cares about you, everything happens for a reason, so this question has an answer.

But now the cancer victim has an extra job. Besides confronting the disease, he must look deep inside and learn how this is part of the plan. If he’s successful, he’ll feel better. Or she.

You’ve read essays by people who have (1) gotten cancer, (2) reexamined their lives, and (3) achieved inner peace. I’m sure this happens, but in my experience most of us do not find misfortune an opportunity for spiritual growth.

Exhorting patients to find themselves only adds to their burden. I especially dislike media doctors who urge victims to fight their disease, asserting that optimism aids healing. Be happy or die.

Most cancer patients pull themselves together and deal with immediate problems. That’s the best they can do, and it’s not bad. 

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