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  • Writer's pictureJoy Slaughter

5.4 One Good Thing


This series of blog posts was developed for the Fine Literature Book Club on Facebook. Crossing the Line was their April 2022 group read, and I was honored to lead the discussion.

"Your battle's different from mine. But the strategy is the same. You have to find the good. One good thing. A new baby, soup day, pink toenails." He bumped his shoulder into hers. "Diabetes-inducing Danish." Her smile flickered, but she looked away. "Slowly you move on to bigger things. But taking responsibility for that battle is critical."

At the end of chapter 5, Nathan tells Megan the story of his recovery. He was encouraged by a counselor to take responsibility for his life and to find “one good thing” that would direct his sense of purpose.

The search for meaning and purpose is central to humanity. Nietzsche once said (and Viktor Frankl repeated), “One who has a ‘why’ to live can endure almost any ‘how.’” Sometimes our sense of meaning is grand and wonderful. Other times it is small and sweet. Sometimes it is selfish. Other times, selfless. Finding that bit of meaning, especially in times of unchangeable difficulties, is one of our deepest and most important connections with life itself.

I like asking people what their “one good thing” is. Most people answer with many things. Usually, a family member or spouse’s name will be said. Some have career goals or hobby goals. In times of crisis, I’ve found the goals vary widely. They tend to be something one looks forward to doing–getting a taco from down the street, a need to organize or clean, or a desire to give to others. These tend to be a person’s deepest and perhaps final links with purpose. Like Camus said, “The literal meaning of life is whatever you’re doing that prevents you from killing yourself.”

Meaning can be found in experiences, relationships, and even the attitudes we take in the midst of suffering. Nathan has learned this lesson and has practiced finding a sense of purpose, no matter how small, no matter how silly. Even cookies can be purposeful.

What about you? What’s your one good thing?


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