May 06 2012
“All God does is watch us and kill us when we get boring. We must never, ever be boring.” –(Chuck Palahniuk) That is a darkly humorous and ominous quote, but it has a spark of truth to it. Too much stimulation creates stress, but so does too little. Being stagnant and bored with life stresses and depresses us with feelings of worthlessness. When the stress is ongoing, it debilitates our immune system, leaving us vulnerable to illness and even death. Yes, it’s true…we literally can be bored to death!
Many of us have heard stories of people who have lost their zest for life — their get up and go got up and went — and then they are diagnosed with cancer or some other deadly disease. Poet W. H. Auden refers to cancer as “a foiled creative fire.” I recently saw a good example of this: I was watching a movie about Babe Ruth, and despite his incredible success as a ball player, his big dream was to become a manager of a major league baseball team. Yet that dream eluded him; it was a foiled creative fire. At the end of the movie these two sentences flashed on the screen: “Babe Ruth never became a manager. He died of throat cancer at age 53.”
While a foiled creative fire can sap the life out of us, a fulfilled creative fire, one that we feed and fan, can save our life. Psychologist Lawrence LeShan (often called the father of mind-body psychology) wrote a book called Cancer As A Turning Point in which he illustrated this point. For years he worked with cancer patients with conventional therapeutic methods, but was disheartened that every one of his patients died. Then he discovered something important that would change that ratio to a stunning 50% remission rate!
How did he accomplish this miraculous turnaround? Instead of focusing on what was wrong with the patient, he began focusing on what was right with them. He directed them to discover what brought meaning, purpose, and passion to their lives; this stimulated their internal healing resources. In his book he relates story after story of cancer patients going into remission once they renewed their zest for life and began fulfilling their deepest dreams. (Re-mission = re-igniting our mission in life.)
He helped them ignite their creative fire by asking questions like:
*If you knew that in 6 months a giant asteroid would destroy all life on planet Earth, how would you spend those 6 months?
*What activities make you feel more alive and vital?
*What would you most like to overhear people saying about you?
*Imagine that you just had the most fantastic year of your life. Describe it.
*Imagine it is many years in the future and you have died and the local newspaper has written an obituary describing your fabulous life. What does it say?
I’m aware that prior to my cancer diagnosis I had been stagnating; I did the same work for 25 years and was bored with it. I had foiled my creative fire by not doing the writing that my soul longed to do. I believe that that stagnation contributed to my cancer. Now that I’m happily writing and my creative fires are fully stoked, I’m hoping that God doesn’t kill me! It is said that the top regret of the dying is that they didn’t follow their dream. Whenever that time is for me, that will not be a regret of mine; I am blissfully, fully, finally living my dream.
How about you? Are you excited about what you’re doing with your life? Do you have a creative fire that needs stoking? Stoke it! It will not only enhance your life, it may save it!