COUNSELOR'S CORNER: The search for something deeper

My wife just completed six months of chemotherapy. This had been her second experience with cancer. No more getting beat up by hours of having this powerful liquid pour into her system for three days every two weeks. This would be followed by intense weakness, sleepless nights, debilitated strength. Yet she never uttered a complaint about why did this have to happen to her. She embraced it, accepted it and dealt with it. It was like there was something deeper going on inside of her that gave her strength to be cheerful to all the nurses and fellow patients during the treatment. They had an art class for the chemo patients and she embraced this with the enthusiasm of a first grader discovering that she can draw. Observing and sharing this journey with her brought new depths to both our lives.

The value of the present moment became even more precious. When there is struggle in a person's life that man or woman is challenged to look deeper. I have discovered that when I focus on my whole life, the successes and failures, the wanderings and mistakes, the joys and sorrows, there is a permanent theme that runs consistently through my life. I am searching for something deeper and permanent. What is not deep and permanent does not bring lasting fulfillment. What is permanent and deep touches the depths of my inner longings and desires.

Watching my wife twice struggle with cancer created within me a depth of understanding about life that I thought was always there but a depth that I would often not appreciate. Now I appreciate this deepest longing so much more than I had ever done before. It is a longing for a relationship with God who keeps presenting His Presence at every moment of the day and in everything and everyone I see and experience.

This longing is like a Spiritual and Emotional DNA that is present inside of everyone. The biggest struggle is that we don't pay close attention to this longing through silence and careful attentiveness to what is happening around us. When there is great joy or great sorrow we become more focused and are challenged to experience life in a deeper, more personal manner.

This Spiritual and Emotional DNA never leaves us. It gets our attention when we look for happiness in all the wrong places because every time we do something that isn't healthy for us we find ourselves feeling sad and disappointed about what we thought would bring us happiness. We are left with a longing that we know wasn't fulfilled. When we pay attention to this DNA by meditative silence, focused attention on another person or a genuine observing and experiencing what is going on around us, something profound happens to us. We want to look deeper and find a more personal experience with this strange 'Someone' or 'Something' that seems to be calling us into a deeper union. We want something fulfilling and permanent. We want a peace or joy that will last forever.

People die young. People die old. But everyone does die. Tragedies happen in every part of the world. Life often might not go the way we want it to go. So what? There is something profound happening to each of us at every moment in life. I could go into rational argument over everything I am saying in this article but it wouldn't do much to convince any of us including myself. What is profoundly happening to us needs to be experienced.

Life's events consistently bring us to a deeper way of living. Our biggest obstacle is not paying attention to the events of life that come upon us. We go through life like distracted students who refused to pay attention to a dynamic teacher. We act like teen-agers who refuse to listen to the wisdom of their elders no matter how well delivered this wisdom comes to them. Then something powerful happens and we are forced to pay attention. The trouble is that so often we have been so used to living on the surface of things that even powerful experiences may not touch us that personally. Just what is the answer?

It is very simple. Every moment of life is a powerful, soul moving experience. We can tune into this at any moment. There is a Power, God, or whatever you choose to call it that is touching the depths of our hearts at every moment. Paying attention to this will bring us into a peace that will permanently stay with us ... forever. But forever starts at this very moment.


Fred Cavaiani is a licensed marriage and family therapist and psychologist with a private practice in Troy. He is the founder of Marriage Growth Center, a consultant for the Detroit Medical Center, and Henry Ford Medical Center. He conducts numerous programs for groups throughout Southeastern Michigan. His column in the Legal News runs every other Tuesday. He can be reached at (248)362-3340. His e-mail address is: and his website is

Published: Tue, Jul 31, 2012


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