Last night I watched a show from the series Lockdown: Indiana State Prison. It's your typical prison documentary. They were interviewing one of the inmates about his views on life and I was startled to hear him use some of the same phrases I do and espouse a philosophy about his life and death that are very similar to mine.
Turns out he's on death row, and he credited it with significantly shaping his views. Then he said being on death row is a lot like having cancer – you know you're going to die 'soon,' so you plan and live differently. It freaked me out. He's right, there's a lot of commonality.
Watching and listening to him helped me realize there are three driving forces inside me, reacting to my situation. Only one ever comes out, but the other two are there, lurking. The dominant force is the one you see all the time – a guy struggling to accept the situation and doing pretty well. The other forces want out of the situation, each by their own method. One is like a child. It wants to throw a massive tantrum and just have the cancer go away. The other force wants to make some change so I never think about my cancer again. It wants me to engage in a massive denial that I have cancer now or ever had it.
I swear I saw the same three forces in the death row inmate in his interview.
Of course what keeps my dominant force dominant is the way the other choices fail to do anything productive. But that doesn't mean there isn't a struggle from time to time, when I want scream out how unfair this is or to just shut down all thinking and feeling. The dominant force always carries the day, though, and I guess that's a good thing.