A cold, merciless January evening it was. I was standing in a house that was supposed to be full of festivity, for we had just returned from my cousin’s wedding reception, only to witness the contrasting silence and shushes.
The house – as it was quietly being filled with guests returning from the wedding hall – started to turn into a haunted house.
The host, the lady of the house, my aunt had been extremely ill. What no-one could foresee, however, was her passing away exactly 3 evenings later.
Fate – they say.
Questions surfaced afterwards, like, why she could never be compelled to initiate treatment for her liver cancer for up to 4 months post-diagnosis?
“She had given up hope and wanted only to live until the marriage of her son” told her husband many days after her demise.
Talk of suppressed fatalities!
Then, there’s this story of Pittsburgh’s running back footballer James Conner, who defeated cancer, 12 chemos and seven months later. All his chemotherapy session followed extreme workouts and he maintained strict diet and laser focus on getting back his strength throughout. He had to beat the monster.
As cited on USA today:
“Conner had one moment in mind throughout the light lifting, running, everything: What it would feel like to run out onto the field for Pittsburgh’s opener against Villanova on Sept. 3, cancer-free. Now, that moment is just more than two months away from reality.”
There is the goal, there is the way, sheer amount of effort to approach cancer-free and approach it fast. To be on the field. To see the dream come true.
What we are arriving at, is absence or presence of one ingredient in both the stories.
And not just the outside dosage of will power, but the intrinsic one. The drive to live for one’s own goals and desires.
A detailed study on the resource of will power (and its depletion thereof) has been conducted by American Psychology Association.
To summarize in one line, the study says:
“When it comes to willpower, those who are in touch with themselves may be better off than their people-pleasing counterparts.”
Mark Muraven, PhD, of the University at Albany, and colleagues who conducted the study found that:
“The people who felt compelled to exert self-control (in this case, opting for treatment, healthier lifestyle and taking all measures for cure) were more easily depleted than people who were driven by their own internal goals and desires.”
How I digest all this now, asking myself, why a person loses hope to live?!
To me, it ain’t a one person’s feat.
Without risking being judgemental, I hope and wish that we better keep an eye on those closer to us and how they are perceiving meaning in life.
To be more present for all who are around and look for cues in our loved one’s statements whether they have their will to live boosted or depleted in this current moment.
In love and meaning,