Sunday, November 30, 2008

A few thoughts about Viktor E. Frankl's novel: Man's search for meaning


I have wanted to talk about a book I’ve been reading lately. I’m going slowly with it, because I contemplate a lot on it so sometimes I read a part twice and than just sit and think about it, letting myself carried away by my own thoughts. (I usually don’t do this, but since this is a very moving book due to the circumstances if the action, and in the same time it has a deep philosophical, psychical analysis too, I just can’t help spending time on digesting it.)
It is set in concentration camps during the second WW. But my intention is not to talk about the plot, but some of the ideas that the author, -- who by the way is one of those few who managed to survive over the tough times of being a Jewish prisoner during the war – discusses in his novel. It is also essential to know that he is a psychiatrist, so he is not a total stranger of the mysteries of analyzing human thinking and behavior.

It was freezing outside, snow covering everything. Many of the prisoners didn’t even have shoes to put on, the rest of them had shoes all right, but those were usually so worn out that they looked nothing like shoes, rather some shreds of leather fastened to one’s feet with a piece of wire.
The prisoners were woken up very early at peep of dawn and they had to march to their work site which was usually miles away. They could hardly breathe in the paralyzing cold which pierced into their bones. However, it could not foray into their souls and minds, and despoil them from the ultimate comfort of their being: the reason for their existence, their only hope… Not knowing where they step, blinded by a combination of cold versus “visions”, dreams, and mental movies about their lives prior to their imprisonment, they had one thing in their minds: their loved ones.
It is so amazing that when everything is taken away from a person, - many times even the right or obligation to actually be human – there is nothing left besides the memory of the people who were once dear to you… You don’t care about material things, entertainment, social life, social status, goods, food or water, because there is nothing left from all these. NOTHING! Everything that you once took for granted is inexistent. Even the thought, that you had all these, no matter what minimal amount you had, is diminished.
Not only are your material goods taken away from you, but also your dignity and your feelings are patronized to a certain point. And through all these the one thing that remains with you is caring about your loved ones, wondering where they might be, the hope that they are still alive and what's more, one still has the daring faith that they will wait for him no matter on which side (this or the other one). Love is the ultimate and perpetual heritage one can posses. Love is something that no one could ever take away from us. People can treat you as slaves, as animals or even make you nourish feelings you never though that someone could provoke out of you. Still, besides all these negative aspects, you will never lose the love you cherished even years prior to everything bad that happened to you during a critical downfall.

The next thought from this book that I would like to share is how important it is to give our lives a meaning. This book –as the title very well shows – has this as its primary purpose.
It is essential to find a meaning for being, purpose to keep on going, or maybe if there is nothing left worth living for, then we should try to look for a meaning of our past.
The writer quotes a German poet to illustrate the later idea. “Was Du erlebst, kann keine Macht der Welt Dir rauben. (What you experienced, no power on earth can take from you.)
Because having been is also a kind of being. Isn’t it? What we once experienced, but also what we once done, whatever great ideas we nurtured and also all we have suffered, all of this is NOT lost, although it is in the past, we have once brought into being!!!

During one of my psy classes in college the professor asked us to think about a simple question for a moment. And the question was: ‘Can you identify the meaning of your life in this very moment?’ I think this is a good question everyone should ask himself. Is there? I mean seriously, are we confident about the answer to this question? If you are, then you are surely one of a kind. Well, yes, I might have some shreds of answers here and there myself, but, although I am not proud to say it I will do it anyway: I do not have a strong answer.

Imagine that people once found meaning in concentration camps in a practically hopeless situation, and in today’s relatively balanced world we are often incapable of doing that. You know, I think this happens a lot because we place the gage and the limit too high…

I watched the movie “Sex and the City” the other night (I have ABSOLUTELY NO idea what got into me) and the basic idea of the movie is: finding love. Four girls once went to New York City to find love (note: love NOT marriage!) So their whole “girly lives” practically revolved around this search for something they could not find elsewhere: Love, and thus happiness.

Now that I come to think about it, I think I know what every girl’s life is about. Money!!! :) Just kidding…I mean think about it. Yes, we go to school, search for a great job, build a career, but there is always something missing from the puzzle. You can be at the world’s most expensive cruise and drink champagne all day long, swim in your lovely 5 grant Gucci swim suit, play with dolphins in the sea, and who knows what else and I can assure you as a 20 year old girl that I am, that you will find that there is something missing. Well…maybe you will only see it after a while, not right away, but still at one point you realize that there is something essential missing from your life.
On the other hand, if you find (I wish you will…Gosh, I wish I will someday) that person who is right for you and as you love him, he will also love you in return, no strings attached, you just know that he is the one, then there is no cruise (or dolphin :)) in the world that could make you transpose that stage/position.

I dare you to ask yourself : What is the meaning of YOUR life?

1 comment:

  1. Szuper..istenien irsz, komolyan, tudom en h nagy irono es szineszno leszel te :):*
    Visszaterve kerdesedre...Szeretet, ez az amit keresek, ha szeretet, marmint szerelem van akkor barmit elerhetsz. Sajat boromon tapasztaltam mindeket lehetoseget. Volt-Van, sajnos a masodik opcio mar nem annyira biztos.

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