...and other disappointments connected with worldly circumstances...are principally the effect either of gross imprudence, of ill-regulated desires, or of bad or imperfect social institutions" (John Stuart Mill Utilitarianism, 106). I interpret this sentence to mean that change in fortune, specifically regarding ill fortune, is dependent on human action. I could certainly be wrong here, but it seems Mill is saying that we control our own fortunes. He notes a few lines earlier that "even that most intractable of enemies, disease, may be indefinitely reduced in dimensions by good physical and moral education and proper control of noxious influences, while the progress of science holds out a promise for the future of still more direct conquests over this detestable foe."
Mill's phrase the "vicissitudes of fortune" has been nagging me all day. I wish I could believe if society pulled together and started actually caring about change, most, if not all, ill fortune and "other disappointments" would disappear. I know, however, that it won't. We can treat cancer; we can't cure it. I believe that no matter how pleasant we can make our circumstances and surroundings, there will always be an unspoken and indescribable unhappy feeling creeping around. There is something inherent in us that allows for us to not be happy all the time. But this something is not under our control, and social change, however good, will not take it away.
I have been struggling to push this darkness to the back of my mind. The honeymoon is over, and I have been reminded just how hard it is to be a college student, what with the late nights, studying, incomprehensible philosophers, or just trying to keep days straight. I have always had to work to keep my life organized, and now I have a whole new dimension to consider: chemo, my white blood cell counts, whether or not my temperature is rising. I am mostly successful in keeping cancer in the background. There are some days, however, when I just want to not think about anything. Yesterday, for example, I had work at the gym. I love working there in the mornings during the week, but the weekend is a different story. I worked from 8-2 yesterday, and by the end, I was exhausted. There had been too many people, too many children running around, too many customers projecting their angriness and unhappiness towards me. It was too much for me, when I have been going almost nonstop for over a month now. I broke down when I left the gym; I started crying so hard I couldn't breathe. And then I got on the train and came back to my apartment. I baked some cookies and got caught up on my Grey's Anatomy. And then I went to Barnes and Noble and bought a few new, beautiful books, and I felt better. I feel better.
Everything is different for me now. I can't handle the same type of stress or activity that I could a year ago. My tolerance has been adapted for hospitals and needles and pills. I am very slowly relearning how to be busy me. I am going through some tough times, but they are moderated by the good things that do keep happening and the good people I have around me. Today was better than yesterday. Tomorrow may or may not go well. I just have to wait and see what Fortune drops on my lap. Hopefully good things. Good luck to everyone else struggling this week. Life will necessarily get better. Peace.