“There are two kinds of people in the world. There are the kinds that believe there are two kinds of people and then there is everyone else.”
This line by Dr. David Haase really knocked me down. It pushed me backwards, crab-walking on my elbows until my back was against a wall. Ahead of me, I was facing the truth in what he said and a fear that I might be that first type of person he refers to. Behind me was the cold, hard wall. I suppose my options were to turn my back on his words, cornered in solitude and limitation, or to stand up, and start working toward the second option—someone that ignored the two kinds; someone that ignored binaries. Dr. Haase calls these two options fixed mindset and growth mindset. As long as you’re willing to admit that there are options beyond the wall of limitation, your sentence is growth for life.
Our world is wired in binaries and as human beings, it’s natural to rely on them to understand our environment and our relationships. Something is exciting or boring, lovely or repulsive, possible or impossible. Our friendships are warm or hostile, colleagues are helpful or manipulative, a partner, supportive or stifling. We are comforted by drilling these two stakes into the ground and perceiving situations and people as one definite entity or the other; maybe we can occasionally allow a situation to float freely between the two, but nothing outside the lines.
But the binaries we swear by are false friends. They trick us to believe that we have a handle on the situation, as being black or white, but in reality, they are blinding us from all the outlying opportunities and experiences, the aurora borealis of perceptions. They convince us that things are “either, or” forever, and are incapable of expanding into something greater over time, with deeper understanding. The fixed mindset is shackled and locked away in a cage of binaries. At the Community for Love Cancer, we know binaries well.
Since meeting Scott Miller, and hearing his words, “Love Cancer,” the fixed and growth mindset camps have been experiencing some population shifts. The philosophy may repulse you, because cancer arouses hate and tiptoes near death and these stakes are fixed and firm. Love Cancer may force you to put up walls and close your mind, dismissing the movement all together. Believe it or not, we haven’t seen much of this. At the community, we’ve seen and heard a lot of fear, and uncertainty surrounding the movement, but it hasn’t been marked by only two options, love or hate cancer. Instead, it may come in the form of, “hate cancer” and a litany of other options moving toward forgiving cancer; or, “struggle with understanding cancer” and admitting that love can enter the experience at some point. The spectrum of possible perceptions of the Love Cancer movement is infinite in length, width and depth, and you couldn’t cage it in with binaries if you tried. It won’t fit. You may want to borrow from Dr. Haase here and say that there are two ways to perceive Love Cancer, to not perceive it at all and then every other way.
Recommended for You
The first part of my life… T-Shirt-Navy BlueView on Amazon
Scott Alan Miller shares a key moment with us when he started feeling the benefits of a growth mindset. He remembers walking into this therapist’s office one day with nothing to say, or work through or figure out. This was evidence that he was accepting life on life’s terms, she told him, and he started to cry. He said, “I am grateful to be here, but I am so sad that it took me so long to get here,” he said. She leaned forward to Scott and said, “Oh Scott, most people never get here.”
In many ways, the only prerequisite for joining Love Cancer is breaking down those binaries that define and shackle the day. Fill in the tracks that led you to old beliefs, and stand on new ground. As Scott and many others can vouch, it’s in simply allowing Love Cancer to exist that you start growing; there’s potential somewhere in your future to start accepting life on life’s terms. Let’s make it so that together with Scott, most people get there.