A few days ago on Twitter, I encountered this remarkable clip of Anderson Cooper interviewing Stephen Colbert, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since:
To be clear, I’m a pretty devout atheist, but I don’t think that’s inconsistent with Stephen’s perspective here. (Cue arrogant, annoying 16 year-old me quoting Emerson – “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds…”) Regardless, Stephen’s perspective really resonates with me. Though it may seem perverse, in certain ways I’m grateful for this awful disease that’s befallen me. It has sharpened my thinking about what’s important in my life; it has helped me feel more connected to people; and it has, I think, generally softened some of my harder edges. I guess another way of saying that is that it has given me a stronger (and more actionable) sense of empathy.
Like Stephen, that doesn’t mean that I am happy or glad that this has happened to me. I definitely wish it had not. It shouldn’t necessarily require a terminal brain cancer diagnosis to have the above impacts, but I am grateful that that diagnosis has had those impacts. And, I think that means I am (in some weird way) grateful for the diagnosis.