I’m sure many are astonished when I convey that cancer and prison are the two best things that ever happened to me… I can honestly admit, I was a terrible person most of my life. My loved ones will argue this, conversely, one’s character cannot be judged by how one treats his loved ones, but by how one treats his enemies. I read that somewhere, surely butchered and misquoted, hopefully the gist of it was made manifest. I’ve always been family oriented, I have a wonderful family, I’m have always been an egregiously affectionate man… IF… You were in my circle, but if you were not, your existence was insignificant… I’d emphatically love the people in my inner circle, without judgment nor prejudice, but the rest of mankind was subject to mistreatment, to put it nicely.
Cancer and prison has provided… Correction… forced an entirely adverse perspective. Growing up I’d always felt like an ineffectual nothing. Often relying on outside affirmation to solidify my validity and dictate my happiness.
Reliance on anyone other than self to dictate ones happiness breeds toxicity and will never allow the true content within oneself to be revealed. To put it bluntly, I hated myself. I’d do whatever I could to impress those around me, portray myself to be confident to an extreme, almost to the point of arrogance, I’d use comic relief as well, all in attempt to the mask self-loathing, and in hopes of affection and/or acceptance.
The most efficient mirror of character is the company one keeps. The incessant search for affection, affirmation, and acceptance lead me to be far less of a man than my parents raised me to be, and to keep constant company with petulance. I allowed people in my life that would reassure my anger and insolence in a congratulatory manner, quickly moving up in ranks through a shameful and hostile society. I know now; one’s actions may be perceived as virtuous in the midst of one regime, yet, contrarily, may be posited as vicious in the presence of propriety. Obviously, there are no standards in tests of virtue.
Some way, unknown to myself, I’ve evolved and elevated myself to achieve what Buddhists refer to as “Absolute Happiness.” Neurologists and Oncologists at the Mayo Clinic called this incessant joy simply, “good brain damage” for lack of a better term. I truly wish I could pass on the absolute happiness I’ve procured, however, the transformation I’ve undertaken is not something I can prescribe to others as I believe it’s a path that was provided by a being much more powerful than self. I feel the Christian’s term “reborn” doesn’t directly correlate with said metamorphosis, which is why I chose to use undertaken, which has origin ties to the word undertaker or death, for me this is the best description, as my aforementioned self has suffered an agonizingly slow death, although there is a slight semblance from time to time, I’m confident he is never to resurface.
For the first time in my life I can confidently claim the title of a “good man,” a man of magnanimity and rectitude. Many know the meaning of magnanimity to be generous and noble, yet often overlook it also means, above revenge and resentment. For the first time I want good for ALL others, not just my loved ones, those within my circle, but everyone, even those I may not know or dislike for whatever reason. Sadly it’s taken me to live half of my life in a mundane existence. I cannot complain of the agony I’ve endured (albeit mostly self-inflicted), however, I’m most regretful of the pain I’ve caused my loved ones due to my inability to accept the road to reason much sooner. Again, I must mention the fantastic family that has remained by my side throughout horrendous trials and tribulation. Soon, I will be reunited with my loved ones and eagerly anticipate my reintroduction, because the man they once knew is now extinct. As best put by C.G. Jung, “The work of today is harvested tomorrow.” After years of self-infliction, followed by years of painful cultivation, I am finally able to harvest.
— Anthony L.