Vision and Meaning


Peter Barton’s beautiful memoir, Not Fade Away: A Short Life Well Lived, takes readers along a man’s search for meaning when he’s forced to confront mortality. Struggling for a reason to persist amid a terminal diagnosis, his wife, Laura, orders Peter to “Find a point!”

“So where was I supposed to find something to feel good about, some realm where I could still feel strong and hopeful? The answer now seems obvious, but for me it was the hardest place to accept: that realm was my mind. My frame of mind was something I could still control. Doing so would be a sort of victory I was not accustomed to valuing—a total inward, private victory—but a legitimate accomplishment nevertheless. I resolved to control my own discomforts, to rise above them if I possibly could. In doing so, I came to understand the deep truth that, while my pain may be unavoidable, suffering is largely optional…Pain can make you thoroughly miserable, or pain can just be pain. The trick, I’ve realized, is to confine it to the body and not let it infect the mind.”

For IBMs*, it’s way too easy to lose track of the vision.

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