I think I've figured it out. No, not the meaning of life, or how to achieve world peace, or end hunger. Nothing that grand.
I think I've figured out what's wrong with me.
Have you ever felt an ongoing sense of cognitive dissonance? Something is "wrong" but you don't know what it is. You just know that something is off. Something is not quite right.
When it starts its only mildly annoying, like a mosquito bite – scratch it a few times and forget it.
And then the days turn into weeks, which become months, and all of a sudden something happens - maybe it's something seemingly insignificant, like a rough day at work, or a disagreement with a friend. Or maybe it comes to you in one of those momentous revelations people have when they're standing in the shower or taking out the trash.
Mine came last night, when I was brushing my teeth.
Here's what I've figured out:
I was given a second chance and I'm not doing anything with it.
Well, let me rephrase that – I'm not using my second chance in a way that makes me feel like I'm honoring my good fortune in getting that second chance. The fact that I'm not doing something that I, personally, feel has meaning (meaning beyond myself, I mean) ... well at this point, it seems offensive to me. It feels like an affront. Not to God, but to myself.
I should be doing more.
I know I should be doing more.
My life should mean more.
I should be more.
More than what I am. Definitely more than what I feel like I'm (not) becoming.
My challenge is one of inertia. I'm comfortable. I'm not miserable with my life; in fact I'm mostly happy. I've got nothing forcing me to make any changes, and quite honestly, it's easier not to change anything. I mean, I've already had my life changed in a large way through something that was completely out of my control. Why would I willingly make the choice to do that again?
But then I remember – that experience changed me so much for the better. I know it sounds incongruous, but ... most of the time I feel very fortunate to have had cancer when I was 26. Blessed. Lucky, even.
I'm laughing as I read this. I must be insane, right? I was lucky to have had cancer? Certainly, when my lungs stage a rebellion, I rue the day that I ever had to have Hodgkin's disease.
But overall? It's been one of the best things to ever happen to me.
So why am I not using everything I learned from that experience? Why I am not taking the experience and using it to not only make my own life better, but the lives of others? I look at job postings online on the weekends, and every time I run across one that involves helping cancer patients I think about the time when I was volunteering at Duke Cancer Center in the Cancer Patient Support Program. I think about how happy that made me, and how for the first time since I had been sick – maybe for the first time ever – I felt like I was doing what I was meant to do with my life.
I felt like my life had a purpose.
I want to feel like that again.Posted by Julie on December 2, 2003 10:38 AM to the category Stuff About Me