Psychiatrist Viktor E. Frankl wrote a book entitled 'Mans Search for Meaning' in 1946 after laboring in Nazi concentration camps from 1942-1945. While imprisoned, Frankls parents, brother, and pregnant wife passed away... but Viktor kept going. Through his own experience and the experiences of those he treated Viktor came to realize that we cannot avoid suffering, but we can chose how we are going to deal with it, find meaning in it and move on in our lives based on those realizations.
Heavy shit, worth its weight in gold.
I feel as though 'meaning' is something we as humans constantly search for, though many of us are convinced (myself included) that we are (constantly) just out of it's reach. You don't agree? Think of Facebook, twitter, instagram, social media fillers designed to make us appear as though we are living the best lives ever. Pseudo meaning digitally personified.
I am currently reading Then Again by Diane Keaton. It is a memoir of sorts, but also a tribute to her mother, Dorothy Keaton Hall. The book is a collection of Keatons thoughts, compiled with letters and entries from some of her mothers 82 journals. Dorothy struggled to find her place in the world as she grew older. Questioning what she was meant for once her children were grown and her home was empty, though it seems those feeling were fostered long before. When she was 63 Dorothy wrote out her will and in it she chronicled what she did in a day, painting a picture of what her life looked like at the time. At the end of her list she comes to the point of wondering what her purpose was, questioning, wondering if she had any meaning in her life at all.
I met a friend for coffee the other day. We are both young, we are both (relatively) healthy, we are 'successful' in our own right, and yet, we question comes out- "Why am I here? Does my life, what I am doing, have meaning? Is it worthy?" (worthiness... a whole other ball of wax to tackle on another day).
These questions are not comfortable. They bubble to the surface and we do our best to shove them back under as soon as they do so. Frankls words and ideas challenge this mentality. He asks us to look at our lives, look at the suffering, the nuance and derive our meaning from the discomfort, find our purpose even in the pain and struggle. This is not to say ALL of life is suffering, but it is to say that if we are a generation 'living for the weekend' we are on pause in our own lives more days then not. Viktor challenges you (me) to be present in ALL of life, to find meaning in each moment, and be present (this challenge seems to be a constant in my life... perhaps that means something... ya know?).
Where do you find meaning? What spurs you forward in life? Whether you are at the top of a mountain or currently sitting in the deepest of valleys, may you find the strength to look up, to look out, and to feel the gravity of where you are- there is meaning in the moment, there is meaning in THIS moment.