Over the past month I’ve spent many treasured hours (usually those right before the clock strikes midnight) soaking up the writings of some of history’s most notable psychologists, spiritual leaders and transformational authors. Like the tortoise, I choose not to race through the pages, instead, with my trusty Uni-ball Signo in hand I underline, circle, star, box and notate each delicious morsel of insight and intellect.
Today, I reached the closing pages of Viktor Frankl’s incredible memoir of survival Man’s Search for Meaning. Many of you may know of Viktor Frankl, but for those who do not, his story of courage, survival and conviction to document his Logotherapy theory has become required reading for many college classes. Frankl’s work validates my belief that happiness/unhappiness, fear/courage, focus/distraction are choices we make in each given moment and that our meaning in life is to take responsibility for those choices. Frankl implores to “Live as if you were living for the second time and had acted wrongly the first time as you are about to act now.” This puts not only the choice to act and behave in our hands, but also that it is our responsibility to do so. The responsibility comes not just for ourselves but for others who we are responsible for and to.
This book was completed in 1959 and the work rings just as true today. One particular passage that struck a chord with me as an “overachiever, doer, adventurer” sneaking up on the fifty year mark is “today’s society is characterized by achievement orientation, and consequently it adores people who are successful and happy and in particular, it adores the young. It virtually ignores the value of all those who are otherwise, and in doing so blurs the decisive difference between being valuable in the sense of dignity and being valuable in the sense of usefulness.”
Viktor Frankl’s survival of the horrific German encampments of World War II resolved in a long life of 92 years filled with love and service to his family and career. He once expressed the meaning of his own life in one sentence and asked his students to guess what he had written…one intuitive student had the answer word for word. “the meaning of my life is to help others find the meaning of theirs.”
Today I celebrate making the choice and responsibility to live a creative life.