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Note: The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections thought this entry abysmal. They loathe ‘Notes from the Office” in general but this one was particularly loathsome. They wanted me to put up a cautionary note lest I cause depression. For a bunch of barbarians who think nothing of rapine they can be awfully sensitive.

Office

When it gets down to it my patients come in two categories:

Thems wanting relief from some symptoms.

Thems trying to find meaning in their life.

These goals are not the same; I have to listen carefully as to which one the person on the other side of my desk is wanting. The majority of patients – and people – aren’t especially interested in meaning; they are looking for something to assuage what ails them so they can better function in their lives. A small minority are looking for answers. “What is the meaning of (my) life?”

We have the paradoxical challenge to make meaning in a meaningless universe. That’s it really.

This is a rattling truth to face straight on, worse than encountering Cthulhu. We want Life to have meaning.* I’ve found five ways people deal with the sense of meaningless. Here they from ‘worse to best”:

Suicide. Feeling life has no meaning is a major risk for suicide. There are many examples throughout history to illustrate this bleak option.

Distraction. Sometime called ‘the manic defense”, people throw themselves into activity and past times to keep busy. If they should stop they are again in touch with the meaningless. This option is exhausting and in the end seldom works.

Denial. Life does have meaning as prescribed by religion. All religion is an attempt to bring comforting meaning; it is its most alluring attribute.  Lots of debate on this one whether religion/denial is a good or bad thing to deal with the meaningless of Life.

Creativity. People become artists or actors or politicians to make something noteworthy for themselves and their fellow man.  Creativity is a good way to explore the mystery of Life.  I do this myself as a writer.

Acceptance. This is the most mature of the five ways. It faces the truth without succumbing to delusions or despair. There is a satisfaction in the acceptance there is no ultimate meaning. It is sad but not necessarily depressing. In the end we are all going to die and what we do along the way is up to us to make into a personal meaning, whether it’s solving a global problem or caretaking others or making art. Like the Cheshire cat when asked which way people should go  I reply this depends it doesn’t matter which way to go as eventually you will get somehere.

journeys

 

* The few the proud the conscious have the awesome burden of being aware of this. Those ‘asleep’ are not bothered. It is hazardous to awake because when so it is very hard to go back to sleep. Consciousness is often a one way door; the price of growth is expulsion from The Garden.

 

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