This is not a sad story. This is a story about life.
I was blown away by the response to my last post, and appreciative that so many stayed with me as I described a really difficult experience without trying to fix it, without trying to fix me.
I started to think about the different ways people react to hearing about another’s pain. We may think, “Phew, at least my life’s not that bad.” Or we may think, “Hmm… that sucks, but so-and-so person I know has it much worse.”
These are both statements of comparison, and it is human nature to compare. We look at another person and think, “Am I better or worse? Do I have more or less?” When we like how we fare in the comparison we feel boosted up, prideful. When we don’t, we feel small, ashamed.
But when I talk about my pain, do you really need to have cancer to understand what I mean? Have we not all felt pain? Have we not all suffered? So many people wrote me to say my last post resonated with them, even though they don’t have cancer, because they have been lonely, or ill, or had physical pain.
And likewise, does it matter that others in the world have suffered more than you? Does that really take away your own suffering?
We are put on this planet with a guarantee that at times we will hurt, and at times it will be really, really bad. Instead of getting stuck in comparison, can we gain strength from the fact that we are more similar than different? That we are united in the common experience of being human?
I have cancer, but I’m realizing this is not just a story about cancer. And I am sad, but this is not just a sad story.
This is it! This is what life is like. Sometimes it’s great, sometimes it’s shit. I’ll still go to bed tonight (probably too late), wake up in the morning, and hope the next day is a little bit better than the last.
Photo by Chris Betcher