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This is one of several essays from my private cancer journal. It is not intended as anything than a record of my states of mind as I struggled with the disease and the effects of the treatment.

Scavenger Hunt

pieces of cryptic jigsaw puzzle Monday, December 27, 1999

I don't know if people play that game any more but it was a popular party pastime when I was a kid. People were given a ridiculous list of items (e.g., a live white goldfish, a black and white picture of Elvis, a 1968 nickel, a pound of sauerkraut, etc.) and sent out to find them. The first team to return with them wins.

That was one of my insights, a way to view what we are doing here in Life is that we have been sent here on a scavenger hunt with one catch: no list.

"Excuse me? No list?"

"No list."

"I'm being sent to look for things in Life that are on a list and I don't know what is on the list."


"How do I know what to look for?"

"That's one of your items on your list."

"What is?"

"To figure out what is on your list."

"No, YOUR list."

"My list."


"The list I don't get to know."


"Okay, so how do I know when I find something on the list if I don't have a list?"

"That's on your list too."

"The one I don't have."

"You're catching on."

"So let me get this straight. I'm being sent into Life to find..."

"Or create."

"Right...or create items on a list that I don't have."


"And on this list is for me to know what items are on the list."


"And you call this..."

"Life. And guess what?"

"I hate to ask but I will. What?"

"You just got an item on your list."

Albert Einstein once said that God doesn't play dice.

To the contrary, it is the only game God plays. Each of us are a roll of his dice as God tries to find the items because, you see, we are finding items on HIS list and he doesn't know what will work either.

Try this.

Try that.

Try this.

Try that.

And so in Life we get giraffes with elongated necks, saber-tooth tigers with fangs they can't use and now and then, something that really works, like an opposing thumb, not to mention an occasional Galileo, Hitler and Jesus. Some help. Some don't.

We each go through life trying this and that, pursuing an idea, a job, a person or perhaps fleeing from same.

Here's the catch. We're usually wrong. That's what makes Life such a bummer. We chose the wrong idea, the wrong friend, the wrong job, the wrong person and die thinking we have achieved something when we have not. We go back with items not on the List. But if we are lucky, we go back WITH items on the List. Meanwhile, Life is MUCH more fun. It is what people mean by "soul mate" or "finding their true purpose." It doesn't mean it is GOOD. It just means they are doing what they are here to do, finding who or what they were sent here to find.

It is what constitutes the "fulfillment" of one's life.

Sometimes we can stand on a mountain top and see it with more clarity than ever. We can see where each piece and person fit or missed and what we learned and where we erred. And if more of us are right on the important things than we are wrong, Life moves forward. God moves forward. The catch is that Life has no more idea where it is going than God does.

If we are lucky, someone will be on our list. They are fulfilling. It might be for a day, a year or a lifetime, but they fulfill something in us and we fulfill something in them.

That is all we are asked to do. Whether or not it moves Life forward is up to us.

I am realizing that is what cancer gave me, a clarity that I have never had.

I just don't know what to make of all of it.

Maybe it is just on my List.

At least I'm writing again, jumbled mess that it is.

That's a start.


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This information is provided for educational purposes only and does not replace or amend professional medical advice. Unless otherwise stated and credited, the content of Phoenix5 (P5) is by and the opinion of and copyright © 2000 Robert Vaughn Young. All Rights Reserved. P5 is at <>. P5's policy regarding privacy and right to reprint are at <>.