- Victor Frankl, "Man's Search for Meaning"
"In September of 1942, a young doctor, his new bride, his mother, father, and brother, were arrested in Vienna and taken to a concentration camp in Bohemia. It was events that occurred there and at three other camps that led the young doctor - prisoner 119,104 - to realize the significance of meaningfulness in life."(Dr. C. George Boeree)
The doctor was Victor Frankl. He had an established career as psychologist, author, researcher, a brilliant bloke- when everything was snatched from his grip and he was forced into a hellish existence apart from his wife and family. He was given a number to replace his name, his dignity stripped away. And yet he survived.
Frankl's theories and writings are far too complex to encapsulate in this small space, but something I've learned from studying bits and pieces is this:
Restoration of the body and mind takes time- but believing that the 'little' daily decisions to change our perspective or attitude about what has happened to us in life restores that broken place in us.
Whether the broken place came from someone or something else, or was or is self-inflicted- the hope remains that we are free to respond however we choose to respond.
This freedom doesn't sound all that remarkable perhaps.
But in the case of Frankl's forced separation from loved ones, it makes all the difference.
And a few years ago, i learned how remarkable this freedom is. In the case of addiction, the deep depression i would sink into, followed by untamed highs- these things aren't the easiest things to reconcile with. For years my memories and experiences of life were clouded by the back and forth of self-medicating and mental fugue. And now, daily, ever so minute-ly, i learn a different way of looking back or of not looking back rather.
"Once hopeless, my life is now hope-full... the last of the human freedoms, to choose one's attitudes in any given set of circumstances, is to choose one's own way."
i don't look back on any of the past anymore with shame or regret or any other banal afterthought.
i don't feel the sting i once did over loss and grief that once overtook me.
Because i've recognized (with the help of others) that i have a choice today in how i walk forward. Will i see the purpose of today and the meaning in the small things?
Will i let hope increase rather than decrease because i'm free to choose to hope- even if life external doesn't appear 'hopeful'?
One last Frankl quote to munch on..."What matters, therefore, is not the meaning of life in general, but rather the specific meaning of a person's life at a given moment."
this minute holds abundant meaning because it connects hope to my heart and hopefully to yours too...
we are not nebulously alone, we are connected by our freedom to choose hope, regardless of life or the news or the blues...