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Honoring My Mother: Searching for meaning

It has happened twice before. Me re-reading some old college notes, then eventually finding myself reviewing their entire length later in Google. I guess that is what happens when you have so much quarantine free time, and online forays have become boring.

It had all started innocently, looking at a cartoon drawing that depicted a robot trying to ponder on its existence. That was the joke of course, because only humans could be capable of self reflection. This in turn had led me to continue on and pore through the cartoon’s related article. It was a review of Viktor Frankl’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning, one of my fave reads in first year.

He, an Austrian holocaust survivor, had an interesting concept (that had much later evolved into what is known as Logotheraphy), that our most basic motivational urge as humans and individuals is to continually seek meaning to our existence. In short, his idea meant applying the “Why”, maintaing a positive outlook about it, and then, imagining the future result.  According to Frankl, the manner by which a person (or prisoner, such as he was) visualize beyond the trials and struggles of the present has a direct impact on his survival and continuance.

Interestingly, our situation today under a Covid-19 pandemic, is eerily similar to what he had faced in the death camps. He had also said that when faced with a difficult situation (such as a camp or a pandemic situation for that matter), man has that innate ability to adapt, and change accordingly.

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

How true is this? While the book had continued to inspire many of us with its tale of the triumph of the human spirit despite the unimaginable horrors of a WWII concentration camp, the actuations of many more today during these pandemic times have proven to be a truly disturbing contradiction, if not a mere distraction. Perhaps, another quote that had been attributed to him suggests that our so-called free will, which entails choosing our own path in any circumstance, runs contrary to this search for the why. More important, this gets in the way of our survival.

To quote another famous Austrian, Albert Einsten, when he was quoted as saying, “Two things are infinite: the universe and man’s stupidity. I am not sure about the universe.”


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