Earlier this month I finished a book from my 2018 Reading Syllabus, When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalinithi. Have you read it? It's been on my radar for a couple years now. A memoir written by a young neurosurgeon faced with a terminal cancer diagnosis who attempts to answer the question "What makes a life worth living?" Following his death his wife brought the manuscript to print. A book written by a young dying man. Yes, it is just as heavy as you might think. But also breath taking and poignant and the kind of book you can't stop thinking about.
There is a particular line in the book that has stuck with me and brings me to quick gasps each time it crosses my mind. Paul and his wife, Lucy, are discussing the possibility of going through with their family plan to conceive a child, even as his health, and therefore life, is uncertain.
She asks him "Don't you think saying goodbye to your child will make your death more painful?" And he responds...
"Wouldn't it be great if it did?"
Oh but what if we all looked at our lives this way.
What if avoiding suffering in life was not our goal. What if instead of attempting to find the answer to all of our struggles, our anxieties, our pains, whether simple daily challenges or greater life altering unknowns, what if we just focused on living. What if we didn't shy away from that difficult conversation with a spouse to avoid conflict, what if we didn't try to stop our child from always being sad, what if we didn't hide from our big dreams because of a 100,000 reasons why it might fail.
What if instead we agree that life wasn't about avoiding suffering.
Life was about living.
Living when it's hard. Living when it's sad. Living when it's boring. Living when it's scary.
Living because it's what we are called to do.
Wouldn't it be great if we did?