Monday, September 6, 2010

Man's Search for Meaning

I'm close to finishing this book and holy cow, what an experience!  What a masterpiece of deep thought, human suffering, and psychology all mixed into one.  I feel as though it has taken some of the lessons I have learned about physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health from the "Feelings" book, and perfected it into the raw, real, fundamental lessons that actually fit into my life.  
   The message of this book reiterates to me the important role that suffering plays in bringing us closer to our Maker, because intense human suffering brings one to the depths of the soul to question the very purpose of its existence.  Of course, Viktor Frankl's experience with human suffering is on a much deeper and extreme level than most any of us will comprehend or experience seeing as he survived the horrors of Auschwitz during World War II; yet somehow, the insight he gained from the pain, suffering, cruelty, and despair he experienced and witnessed, is wisdom that (I believe) most any human can plug into the equation of their lives and relate to on some level.  
   Though I have written mostly about topics related to physical health, I cannot ignore that health (which means "wholeness") is more than just physical.  One cannot be truly whole without the well-being of the mind and spirit as well as the body.  This is partially why I found the book "Feelings Buried Alive Never Die": because I do believe that the health of our minds and spirits (or lack thereof) greatly effect our physical health (and vise-versa).  While sometimes I believe that even the most positive and spiritual of people can experience great physical suffering and death from no fault of their own, I am fascinated by Viktor Frankl's observations that those in the concentration camp who had something positive to live for and had their spiritual and mental health intact usually defied the odds and survived far longer than those who were more physically robust.
 "He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how."
I may add to his profound words that sometimes enduring through the unthinkable how can bring us to our knees in humility to rediscover the why (if that made any sense!?).

I came up with that little thought and then read this paragraph:

" did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us.  We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life--daily and hourly.  Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct.  Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.  These tasks, and therefore the meaning of life, differ from man to man, and from moment to moment." 

   You could probably have a semester-long discussion and debate about those words in a college lecture hall (probably has happened!?), and I can't come up with an eloquent, deep commentary on it, except for to say that I am grateful for my suffering (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, etc) and the opportunity it presents me to act as a better individual than I thought I could be or thought I was and to bring me closer to my God.  Often (well, usually) it isn't until I have endured through one trial and reflected on it that I can clearly see the purpose behind it; but there always is a purpose, and He is always there to carry me as I take the necessary steps to find it.

1 comment:

  1. Your posts are always so timely. Thank you for the insights you have, and then share.

    I do not know if Taylor has shared much with you about his papa. He, like me, suffers from Peripheral Neuropathy. He has been suffering with it much longer than I have and I am pretty sure my pain is nothing compared to what he endures. I honestly do not know how he manages his pain and suffering. His is especially bad at night, which keeps him from receiving much sleep.

    During all those hours when his suffering is most intense, he uses those hours to better himself. He has, among other things, taught himself a foreign language. He has also used the time, in the depths of his own pain, to contemplate, then write about, his own feelings and knowledge about the Savior. He has written a 2-book series based on this. I have read a good portion of book 1, and it is amazing. My brother is such an example of how to deal with physical suffering. Me, I try and endure with dignity, also, but am afraid I am more the "whiny baby" than he could ever be.

    As you can see with the lateness of the hour of this comment, nights are a bit tough for me, as well. That is why I found this post to be so timely, and touching. I know there is great truth in your words. But, I am feeling agitated and not quite sure how to put them into application. Lately, I feel like I am "kicking against the pricks", as described in the New Testament. I seek to find the meaning of my own suffering, and in the suffering of others.

    I have been to the concentration camps in southern Germany, at Dachau. Even though it was tens of years "after the fact", the brutality and awfulness of what happened there still permeated the grounds. It is horrible to even reflect on the suffering that man can cause for other human beings. And, that people like Victor Frankl, and others, found ANY meaning through it all, AND survived? Well, that alone verifies the
    divine in man, to me.

    This post has touched me to tears this early morning. Perhaps it gives me the courage to try yet again to find meaning to those things through which I have had to endure in this life, and continue to endure. It offers me another crumb of hope, and for that, I am very grateful.

    Thank you!

    Happy day, and night.