A man looking excited as he watches TV

Bingeing and the Search for Meaning

Last updated: January 2023

I'll admit it. I'm a show binger. And even more scandalous, I'm a binger of shows I've previously watched. In the past few years, it's been Las Vegas, Gunsmoke, Breaking Bad and now Lost. In the spirit of transparency, Gunsmoke was new to me. But I have no doubt that in the future I'll rewatch all 20 seasons of it.

More meaning the second time around

All these shows are terrific and with all of them, I found more meaning in my second viewing than I did with my first.

And over time, it's more and more important that I find meaning in things. I need to know that my successes and failures and mistakes are all part of some plan or destiny.

The unseen energy in the world

I've never been a religious or spiritual person. But after my blood cancer diagnosis, I started to have dreams that seemed quite real and quite important. I have no doubt that some sort of unseen energy shares the world with us.

The show Las Vegas was meaningful when I first watched it, because at the time my dream was to live in a high rise condo above the Vegas strip. Rewatching reminded me of that dream and how much cancer had changed me, physically and mentally. I'll still wouldn't mind living in Vegas, but now it'd be off the strip and I'd have a low maintenance home with a swimming pool and large kitchen.

Parallels and lessons from the shows

My first viewing of Breaking Bad was during the first year after my myeloma diagnosis. It's a great show and I watched it simply for that reason. But when I rewatched it, I paid more attention to the cancer angle of the main character. There's a mention of Thalidomide, a drug I briefly tried. But more meaningful was that Walter White felt like he had nothing to lose, given his cancer diagnosis. In rewatching it, I wondered and rued that since my diagnosis I've done nothing exciting nor terribly different since being diagnosed.  Well, I've stayed alive but I haven't really just lived with nothing to lose. I made a mental note to live a little more freely.

Don't confuse coincidence with fate

And now I'm about halfway through Lost. There's a line in the show: Don't confuse coincidence with fate. It's something I often do. I want fate and destiny to help explain why things happen the way they do. The general theme of the show, is survivors of a plane crash on a deserted island are forced to face their fears, their past and their personal demons.

As I'm rewatching the show, I've realized that I've been looking at my cancer journey all wrong. It's not about living carefree and throwing caution to the wind, as I once wrote. Instead it's using my time to face my fears and toss away cowardice and to be absolutely true and honest with myself.

It must sound weird hearing me mention cowardice. Facing cancer is by definition a brave act. It's something I've embraced and am constantly learning to cope with. But have I had a choice? Not really. But there are things in life when I've had options.

Easy and hard options

Typically with options there is the easy way and the hard way. I've chosen the easy way many times. Going forward I need to opt for the hard way. I'll feel better about things knowing I stood up to my fears.

I'm guessing I'm leaving folks scratching their head right about now. What the heck is Matt talking about?  I think generally what I'm saying is there is no time like the present to be ourselves. Coincidence and fate might overlap as we do that. 

I find solace in stories, fiction or non-fiction that help me gather me thoughts. I hope you all are able to take some time to do something similar.

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