Finding Meaning in Suffering, and Beauty in Death

THERE’S A WEIGHT TO ALL OF THIS, to being so close to death so unexpectedly, that in terms of the absolute value of experience is far beyond anything that I’ve experienced so far in my life.  It out-joys the most profound happiness, it out-hurts the most intense pain; it’s simply bigger and heavier than anything and everything else that’s come before it.

And it is just that absolute value– the distance between the intensity of this experience and the dullness of everyday mundanity (with no reference to its positive or negativeness)– that makes me almost enjoy it.  You almost become addicted to it, in the sense that you could never go back to feeling the way you used to about the world before everything around you was framed in terms of The Ultimate of Ultimates.  Like tasting ice cream once and never having it again, you’d always know that there’s something bigger lurking that puts everything else you previously knew and typically experience to shame.

And in this case that “it” is death.  The ultimate trivialiser, which creates a prism through which all my senses, both physical and emotional, must now pass through.  I can no longer love, without thinking about loving no more.  I can no longer taste, without thinking about tasting no more.  I can no longer say, or see, or feel, without knowing that all of those sensations may be the very last instance of each.

The incessant profundity in that– the immense weight now attached to just going out for a walk (because you might never come back) or saying goodbye to a friend (because you may never see them again) or listening to a song (you get the idea)… it’s indellible.  Inescapable.

And, ultimately, so unrelentingly interesting.  Thank god, that to me all of this is so interesting.  Because otherwise it’s just suffering.  Because suffering is a perpetual stain on the ease of normal experience.  And a stain, by definition, ruins.  It detracts.  It makes partial or lesser something that was once perfect and whole.

But if you’re able (or even better, naturally inclined) to see a stain not as a mistake, but as an aberration, a difference from the norm yes, but not necessarily a negative one… if you’re able to see that even a stain has its own inherent qualities, and perhaps even its own potential for beauty, then there can be meaning in suffering.  There can be beauty in death.

And sometimes– in fact, for me oftentimes– there is exactly that.

For example: I am nothing if not lucky that my brain is wired in such a way that it can be fascinated by the very thing that is attempting to destroy it.

Imagine that.  There is, very clearly, a profound beauty in that.

I can see it.

7 thoughts on “Finding Meaning in Suffering, and Beauty in Death

  1. Wow. Fascinated by the very thing that is attempting to destroy it… would that we all would find that fascination with our egoic mind and watch its machinations with a sort of sweetness.

  2. As a fellow brain tumor patient (idk what else to call us really…) I wanted to thank you for writing this blog. I look forward to your witty posts & each time take something away from them. I admire your honesty & positivity the most. I will certainly miss reading your posts & wish you the very best on your journey.


  3. Have been following your blog regularly now, your words give inspiration, perspective, courage, joy in life. There are so many many people suffering, but not all can take something out of it and give so much to others. Thank you, you inspire me to try and live life in a more fuller, richer way. At the crux of it all, any one of us so called healthy people could die before you, right?

  4. I remember my moments in time with another type of cancer, was advanced stage 4…I remember saying to myself , I have a wife and 3 kids ,ages 3 to 14….I have no time for thinking about ..?? What if….I have to and will think about what i need to do…and that was living every moment every day caring out my responsabilities to myself and my family…, chemo , radiation, all brutal, suffering, weakness, soreness ,loneliness…..unless someone experiences the trauma of the experience…they can not really understand the feeling ….they can only sympthaize..I remember 30 days after surgery , went back to work, why ? mouths to feed, and bills to pay, drove to a hospital after work every other day 4 chemo….and after 45 to 50 minutes was so weak, thought i would have to crawl home ….did this every mon, wed friday,after the 60 day….started radiation, drove 48 miles one way, after the 3 treat…was so sore i used a air cushioned pillow to sit in the car…everyone i knew did not know how to relate to me… 2 dogs were my closest and best friends…..people at workplace after a while shunned me…..yet i worked harder….But here is the blessing and the things i learned …..all the bad moments and days….they taught me to realize, life is a gift….dont waste it… is the hard part,we have to learn how to live the moments and days we have and make them good ones….then ,when the time comes ,we will know…..BY the stars and heavens above….I made this life a good one..sincerely…relish your moments here and now…whatever comes after…icing on the cake….but i chose to live each moment now….not tomorrow….

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