The Meaning of Life

The simple beauty of the Fibonacci numbers in nature as in this coneflower

I am feeling like a pre-pubescent boy, flushing in anticipation of the rising tide of masculinity that comes with the boost to testosterone which puberty brings. Sometimes I cannot even think straight. I have a lot of adrenaline flowing through me right now, like an energy is rising as I transition. So it has got me thinking all about the meaning of life all over again.
Three massively positive things have happened to me in the weeks since I last wrote on Stubborn Dogs.
The first is that I FINALLY qualified as a therapeutic counsellor after a hard long slog of working out who the hell I am and what I am living this life for? I don’t claim to ever be able to know all of the answers to those questions. But I have grown into my new self as a result of much self-reflection on old patterns of feelings, thoughts and actions and relationships with others. I have also changed aspects of myself I found I wanted to change in this process over the last four and a half years as a result of truly experiencing myself through my relationships with others. Every single person I have connected with along the way, and you all know who you are, has mattered deeply towards my understanding of myself and of my place in the universe around me.
Although for ethical reasons I will be on a break from counselling work until I am stabilised enough on my hormone therapy and have worked through any issues of ‘fitness to practice’ in clinical supervision, I am actively researching my areas of interest and preparing for client work in the future. I will also be developing some educational workshops and trainings around working with gender diversity, as well as other areas of interest. I am working with my friend Claire on developing a new website so it’s watch this space about my services available soon. Any editors out there, I’m also in the market for any publishing opportunities too… so drop me a line if you’re interested!
The second brilliant thing is that I have also had my first appointment with a private gender specialist in London who has taken me on as a patient while I wait for the NHS wheels to slowly grind and catch up with where I am in my transition. Luckily my GP is ace and is backing me all the way, but I need to get a prescription initiated by a specialist first so unless I am prepared to wait an unknown but lengthy period of time and continue to struggle with dsyphoric feelings, thoughts and behaviours which impact on my mental health, I NEED to pay for it. It works out about the cost of a budget holiday so it’s a no-brainer for me. I have my blood and liver function tests to be done on Tuesday and I am booked in after the results come back for my second appointment for next payday! I am so hoping I might get my first shot then, all things being ok. If that’s the case then I might only have twelve more sleeps left until I can feel like my body is beginning it’s biggest transition since the last time it hit puberty which was the wrong one and was a disaster. My boy will begin his physical journey to manhood at last and soon I will start to talk like a man too. I’m curious about how it will affect me individually. I have excellent empathic awareness right now and my emotional expression is full and expressive. Testosterone will affect this and I will have to learn new ways of dealing with this. I am already learning to ‘tone down’ my non-verbal and tactile communication with men I meet in casual encounters!
The third thing is an existential dilemma posed to me by a Facebook friend, Kate, who is a Christian lesbian and who sometimes speaks at church services. Kate was preparing a sermon on what god looks like and had asked her FB friends to share their thoughts with her. Kate is cunning like that, getting her mates to write a stunning sermon for her! They’ll fall for it every time 😉
Now I, like any good revolutionary marxist, am an atheist. I do not worship any god, or any goddess for that matter, and am resolutely opposed to religious dogma that keeps the masses in their place in fear of divine retribution and going against the patriarchal authority on high. But like every human being, I have my contradictions, and one of these is that I can simultaneously be an unequivocal atheist as well as having a shamanic spirituality. I rationalise it intellectually by appreciating the weirdness of quantum phenomena and the vast forces, energies and masses that form our known (and even unknown) universe(s). I don’t expect any one at all to share my beliefs, I just find they help me ground myself in this brief existance I will have on this Earth…well, until the next one comes around maybe lol 😉
But yesterday, on top of all the stupendous emotional peaks and troughs I have been walking through in recent weeks and months, I had a brush with death. Well, both me and my girlfriend had a brush with our mortality to be precise when an idiot stopped dead on a fast A-road without indicating, and after a bend, and I had to perform an emergency stop at 60mph without losing control of the car. Luckily, I have once performed this driving manoevre about thirteen years ago when I did my advanced driver training while working on London Ambulances. Luckily, body memory works. Luckily we did not have someone driving behind us. Somehow, someway it worked and we are alive and my car is in one piece.
Later on we were watching a cracking FA Cup Final where my girlfriend’s Chelsea boys beat Pompey, and there was a thud on the conservatory window and I caught sight of a bird drop to the ground. I went out and found a greenfinch out sparko on the grass below the window. It’s mate was nearby chirping frantically. I picked the bird up in my hands but it looked like his neck was broken. Tending him gently, it became apparent that he had died. All I could do was leave him in a position where cats couldn’t get him so his mate could see for sure he had died. Then I left him to be taken by the night animals. Life and death. It’s all part of the cycle, but we often do not have any idea when our cycle is going to come to an end. A fluke accident can end it all.
It got me thinking about Kate’s question again, and after some more pondering I wrote the following:
“I guess, god to me, is the creative and destructive energies or spirits of the universe so to look at god is to see everything around me in all its dynamic glory. To truly appreciate the beauty of the Fibonacci series, numbers hidden in the patterns of life. DNA. To see a greenfinch dying in my hands today and looking at its mate grieving as I was powerless to change its fate. God looks like the man who stopped the tank in Tianamen Square. Or the look in the eyes of another being, human or non-human, who truly loves me unconditionally. I see god in the Eagle Nebula where stars are born or in the form of the event horizon of a Black Hole. I see god on the blade of the knife that respects the boundary of skin on another. I see god as a instantaneous flash of white light in my brain when the car in front of me stops dead on an A road without indicating and I have to do an emergency stop at 60 mph without killing me or my lover or the jerk who caused it. I see god as a stag, as a wolf, a red kite, a badger, a trillion beings and none.”
Kate had more than 50 contributions to her sermon today and a fantastic response. I imagine the diversity of thoughts and images was tremendous. And to me, that’s just what it shows…. how wonderfully diverse human beings are in their search for meaning in their lives.
As a counsellor I am feeling an existential drawing in to this search for meaning in our lives. I found a rare clip from 1972, on of the legendary psychiatrist and Holocaust-survivor Viktor Frankl who delivers a powerful message about the human search for meaning — and the most important gift we can give others. It feels right to end what is now this morning’s post with a link to Viktor Frankl’s own words about Why To Believe In Others. No matter how hard life is, we can find meaning inside ourselves to keep us going, to help us survive, and to help us find meaning in our own lives no matter what our ‘bosses’, our oppressors, our abusers chuck at us to break us.

Psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, Viktor Frankl pioneered an approach to psychotherapy that focuses on the human search for meaning.


About Sam Feeney

I am a counsellor, trainer and LGBTQI community activist. I write about my journey through life as a someone who lives and breathes gender and sexual difference and who cares passionately about creating powerful and sustainable radical social and political change.
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One Response to The Meaning of Life

  1. Pingback: Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life | Anxiety Depression Net

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