I recently re-read Dr Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning, which describes his life in a Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz during the Second World War. But more than a historical narrative, the message his book seeks to make is that despite any debilitating circumstances and even inhuman living conditions, having a meaning to one’s suffering is all that is required to face it head-on and eventually transcend it, even sanctify it. No matter how terrible one’s outer circumstances are, a man still has control on his inner landscape and is free to choose his responses to his situation.
Today, a friend confided in me her emotional dilemma over a recently ended marriage and a new romance that was facing a roadblock. Her ex-husband continued to play a large role in her life as they shared not only two children but also a workplace, and she was unable to ‘move on’ into the new relationship until she severed all ties. “It is not possible to love two men at the same time,” she sighed.
I ended up quoting lines from Frankl’s book, adding, “It’s not what’s happening in your outside life that matters. It’s what’s happening inside your head. Make peace with both your partners within you; let the actual circumstances take care of themselves.”
Life in a concentration camp versus life in a modern urban metro – the external realities may be worlds apart, but the mindscape of the human being remains preoccupied with much the same feelings and desires – for survival, security and a sense of being loved. A well-lived life needs just three things after all: something to do, someone to love, and something to hope for.
Have a meaningful month.