Today I read – inhaled – start to finish, “When Breath Becomes Air,” by the late Paul Kalanithi. It clarified the thoughts I was having yesterday, which I feel perhaps didn’t come out as clearly as I would’ve liked. Certainly, if I wasn’t participating in NaBloPoMo, I wouldn’t have published it. It’s rambling and a touch too raw, too close to how I think to be palatable for mass consumption. Kalanithi’s theme, for me, is distilled into a single sentence on the seventy-first page:
“What makes life meaningful enough to go on living?”
This idea is what I was circling with my metaphor of the pack of dogs, pressing against my legs and shepherding my life in directions I thought I had no control over. I struggled to find purpose because I was not making my own choices, not with a clear head. I resented the places I went, the way I felt, the things I felt I had to do. This is life on autopilot.
At the moment I’m struggling for clarity. I know I don’t want to continue to live as I have been, but I’m not clear on how I move from where I am to where I want to be. Mostly, because I have no idea where I want to be. I’ve been unconsciously waiting to get “better,” to return to a time that never existed, when I was emotionally resilient and physically healthy. I’ve been waiting to:
- have energy
- feel like doing something
- be excited
- not be exhausted
- not be in pain
The way my life has shaken out was not the way I hoped, and yours probably isn’t either. But denying your reality, waiting for some other, better time to live your life… we don’t need a cancer diagnosis to know that isn’t going to work, right?