July 2, 2017

My Hero’s Journey: Enduring Life with Chronic Illness.

The hero’s journey is the overcoming of suffering through uncovering meaning in one’s life.

I have been thinking a lot about this. I can’t stop thinking about it, to be honest.

Living with chronic illness for the past few years has not been a picnic. After being hit with the initial wave of my deeply debilitating affliction when I was 18, it has become progressively more complicated as the years pass. It is suffice to say that I have been pushed to the brink for a man of my years.

My illness is something I have been hesitant to write about extensively. I haven’t seen it as being particularly interesting. Being sick is just something I have learned to deal with; I have come to let the chips fall where they may rather than continually mull over my trials and tribulations.

I don’t feel like a “special snowflake.” It has become very normal.

The illness itself is actually something quite repairable, but I have come to a stage where I have multiple infections in my body interacting with each other in a way that prevents recovery—at least for now.

I won’t bore you with the details. It’s a complicated and obscure illness. The odds of having my condition are astronomically unlikely.

I wouldn’t say the symptoms are the worst part. Human beings are capable of enduring unimaginable circumstances. The most difficult aspect of this experience has been being completely and totally alone, unable to really explain my situation to anyone.

There is not much about my illness that is at all relatable. There is not much common ground between me and most of my generation, or most people in general for that matter. It’s like being in constant agony, but never getting any real sympathy or admiration for what I am dealing with.

It’s okay. I have come to terms with this.

I am at peace with my suffering. I have come to accept that this is a phase in my life, and that it is important that I garner the most from this phase as possible while it lasts.

Honestly, suicide has seemed like a wonderful option through this process. It filled me with joy to think I could just go gently into that good night, rather than always have to rage against it. It would be nice to simply let go of everything—all of my childhood hopes, all of my deepest dreams, all of my lifelong pursuits, my most heartfelt longings—and just give in to the sweet alleviation of death.

I have decided that this is not an option for me anymore.

I have become too strong, and entirely by accident. I can take it. I can keep fighting. Whether or not I want to is irrelevant.

This is why the hero archetype has become so useful to me. The notion of striving with all of one’s soul on behalf of the greater good strikes me so deeply, in a way that I cannot even begin to explain.

It makes me want to cry just thinking about it.

It has become so obvious to me that the meaning of life is unveiled through transcending our suffering. What the hell else could it be? What could possibly be more meaningful than that?

We combat the tragedy of life through evoking a sense of meaning, by incorporating a sense of purpose in our daily lives. It doesn’t have to be anything big necessarily. We don’t need to abolish world hunger or save the rainforest to feel good about ourselves. We can induce meaning through small victories—having good relations with the people in our lives, involving ourselves in something creative, improving the conversation that goes on in our own heads.

If I can get through my day without feeling too badly about my own existence, then I am f*cking Achilles—standing on a hilltop with my sword raised after conquering the Trojans. I am Hector—guarding the gates of Troy with my shield held high.

There is a reason we worship heroes. We worship them because they reveal the best in us and inspire us to strive for the better. They remind us what we are capable of.

I have gotten a lot of flack for criticizing my generation’s lack of these most valuable qualities. I don’t care. I know this to be true. We make the world a better place by optimizing ourselves as human beings, and I don’t understand when or how people lost sight of this.

The hero is the one who delves into the very depths of their psyche, uncovers the infinite chaos lying beneath the waking mind, and carves through it with the sword of truth.

If I can do this on a daily basis, I believe I can defeat my illness and proceed with my life.

We need heroes, which is why I encourage whoever is reading this to embark on your own hero’s journey and engage in the process of cultivating your own consciousness. That is all we have, in the end; it’s the only thing that we can really control.

There is a hero in everyone of us.

Author: Samuel Kronen
Image: Author’s own
Editor: Danielle Beutell
Copy Editor: Catherine Monkman
Social Editor: Catherine Monkman

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