I like to think of life as having chapters, like a book. We moved a lot when I was a kid, and thinking about it that way made sense – when you move somewhere new, an old chapter ends, and a new chapter begins. New chapters mean leaving behind the version of you who lived your previous life so you can make room for the person you’ll become as you figure out how to fit in your new place. You’re still you – just a wiser version with new capabilities and ideas, now that you know more than before.
This counts for other things that change in your life, too. When I met Abe, I opened a new super-amazing chapter and every page since has been happier and better because it includes Abe. Then when we moved to Seattle, another exciting chapter offered new opportunities.
This brain tumor is a new chapter, too.
I had a friend once who discovered she had cancer. I tried to comfort her by telling her she was going to come out of her experience wiser, with a deeper appreciation for life and love and the things that really matter. Later, I read an article by a breast cancer survivor who said how much she hated when people said things like that, and I felt small and bad – like a jerk for having failed my friend by offering unhelpful advice.
Now, though, while I think the lady who wrote that article was clearly expressing her personal feelings; it doesn’t seem fair to generalize based on those feelings. The things I said to my friend all those years ago were things that had comforted me during troubling times, and are the same things that comfort me today during this difficulty. This new chapter is going to be tough and painful, but I sincerely believe that wisdom comes from working through the difficult stuff. That’s just how life works, if you’re paying attention.
So I hope my old friend found my suggestions more helpful than irritating, and I hope we all find deeper appreciation for the things that really matter and emerge from these challenges as better people.