Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Man's search for meaning

I walked to river today and found an egret a little further away on my path still for a moment  then flew away behind the trees. I talked to a older gentleman who was fishing, his cast on the water. "No bite," he said. "Maybe when the tide comes back it will bring the fish." He had been fishing everyday for the last 6 days and had not caught any. 

I just read in David Copperfield succesion of losses, first David's father died, then his mother leaving David orphan and sent to work by his stepfather in a warehouse  and experiencing the "secret agony of my soul." In the other book,Perlmann's Silence, Perlmann's wife died. In addition, in The Life of Meaning, I just read how to confront suffering and death. 

I didn't know why but I thought of Viktor Frankl and his book, Man's Search for Meaning. 

“...Everywhere man is confronted with fate, with the chance of achieving something through his own suffering.
Take the fate of the sick — especially those who are incurable. I once read a letter written by a young invalid, in which he told a friend that he had just found out he would not live for long, that even an operation would be of no help. He wrote further that he remembered a film he had seen in which a man was portrayed who waited for death in a courageous and dignified way. The boy had thought it a great accomplishment to meet death so well. Now — he wrote — fate was offering him a similar chance.
Those of us who saw the film called Resurrection — taken from a book by Tolstoy — years ago, may have had similar thoughts. Here were great destinies and great men. For us, at that time, there was no great fate; there was no chance to achieve such greatness. After the picture we went to the nearest cafe, and over a cup of coffee and a sandwich we forgot the strange metaphysical thoughts which for one moment had crossed our minds. But when we ourselves were confronted with a great destiny and faced with the decision of meeting it with equal spiritual greatness, by then we had forgotten our youthful resolutions of long ago, and we failed.”
This young woman knew that she would die in the next few days. But when I talked to her she was cheerful in spite of this knowledge. "I am grateful that fate has hit me so hard," she told me. "In my former life I was spoiled and did not take spiritual accomplishments seriously." Pointing through the window of the hut, she said, "This tree here is the only friend I have in my loneliness." Through that window she could see just one branch of a chestnut tree, and on the branch were two blossoms. "I often talk to this tree," she said to me. I was startled and didn't quite know how to take her words. Was she delirious? Did she have occasional hallucinations? Anxiously I asked her if the tree replied. "Yes." What did it say to her? She answered, "It said to me, 'I am here — I am here — I am life, eternal life.'" ...(excerpts from Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl)
from the Book of Job 42.5 (translated by Stephen Mitchell).
I had heard of you with my ears;
      but now my eyes have seen you.
Therefore I will be quiet,
      comforted that I’m dust.

No comments: