This whole experience is so much bigger than me.
We will be attending our first fundraiser for the MDA. A bowl-a-thon. [Want to come and raise $: It’s April 27th, details here: http://www.oshkoshmdabowlathon.com/ ] Erik, the man who started this event in 2008 is pretty great and his story reminds me that this whole experience is so much bigger than me.
Since B’s diagnosis almost 2 years ago, I have been all over the place emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually and relationally. It’s been hard you guys. It’s such a conflict to mourn a future, take care of the day to day, make the most of it, find happiness within and make space for all the unpredictable emotions and chaos that follows. The word disorder applies to all.
I think, or rather say out loud “what’s the fucking point” and I feel so sad, such overwhelming sadness. It think is what they call an existential crisis.
Google found this for me when I entered “existential crisis”
“Being-in-the-world is a term that existential psychotherapists use to describe each person's unique, personal way of existing. Being-in-the-world is a state in which you grow and find meaning through your thoughts, actions, and responses to experiences. When you are facing an existential crisis, your being-in-the-world isn't working for you. As you grapple with the existential dilemma you're encountering; you develop a new meaning for yourself and a new way of being. Positively resolving the existential crisis is crucial to your future well-being.”
They say that to resolve and existential crisis, we need to find meaning and if we don’t find meaning then we need to create meaning.
When I’m calmed and focused and the house is clean and the kids are at school and N is at work and Wendell is snoozing at my feet, I remember what B asks of me during his bedtime checkin when I ask him if there is anything I could do better and he says, without fail, Be super duper happy. [btw: I started this check-in question after listening to one of EBs talks on parenting - this practice is a way of empowering my young son so that when he’s older, he will have confidence in his voice to share his thoughts with me honestly.] Be super duper happy. BE SUPER DUPER HAPPY. Being super duper happy in the midst of this experience is downright heroic. To be super duper happy would not only mean doing all the things that will keep me healthy and sane, it would also mean that I would have to accept the realities of B’s disorder. I would have to accept that reality that happiness, being super duper happy is possible no matter the circumstance. I also means that I would have to accept that maybe this idea is crazy. But then all the good ideas are, right. Maybe the meaning of my life is to do crazy things, crazy things to find happiness - not just happiness, but “super duper” happiness.
The word “super-duper” has been in the dictionary since 1938. It means “of the greatest excellence, size, effectiveness or impressiveness.” Harold Kushner says that you don’t become happy by pursuing a life of happiness, you become happy by living a life that means something.
And maybe that is where the existential crisis lies, I can’t figure out how to make my life mean something.
“Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” -Helen Keller
What is my purpose? How do I know its my purpose? What the fuck!
Oh …. I’m starting to get it … I will be super duper happy, not by pursuing happiness (research shows that this pursuit actually leads to depression and loneliness), but by pursuing meaning.
Back to the google search bar …
In Man’s Search for Meaning,” Viktor Frankle suggests three ways for finding meaning in our lives:
By creating a work or doing a deed
By experiencing something or encountering someone
By the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering
Put into my own words:
By creating + taking action
By experience + connection
By experiencing joy wherever I can
You’ll discover it by taking action everyday.