Life's Meaning.

Not long ago I was talking about riding on the terror-inducing roller coaster at Lagoon and how I looked my fears in the face and with my best friend by my side, said 'why the hell not?' and took my first (and maybe last) ride.

Well, my life's meaning and its SUPER chain of events, twists and turns continues, but I am happy to report that I CAN see my silver linings -- plural. Why you ask?  A boatload of faith, prayer and a heightened understanding of finding meaning in life because I read the book "Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor E. Frankl.

I was raised in a very devout Mormon family, but I was blessed to be exposed to a number of different religions and their beliefs and lifestyles.  I've always been fascinated by the intense devotion that is shown by Catholics, Jews and Muslims, to name a few.  For me, I always thought my religion had a lot to embrace and keep track of to be a "good Mormon" but I was and continue to be inspired by my friends who are devout to their beliefs. Judaism, in particular, is a religion that has always peeked my interest.  Maybe it's because of "Fiddler on The Roof" or Ross Gellar singing "Dreidel, Dreidel" in an aardvark costume, but it's probably because of my extensive research of the second World War and the persecution towards the Jewish people. When my lovely friend Amanda recommended this book I was going through a royal shit storm of all shit storms.  She shared with me that this book was written by a Jewish psychiatrist who survived living in the Nazi concentration camps and wrote this book to share his theories on coping and survival under the bleakest of circumstances.  At the time I tried to read it and the raw, tragic details and realities of the concentration camps was just too much.  However, I was not in the right place and when I was faced with the last curve ball of my life, I picked the book up and hardly put it down. I could write a LOT about the wonderful gems that caught my eye, but I will only cover a few to wet your whistle. I told Amanda that this book was like a good solid therapy session for me.
When I was reading this book I had to have a pen handy so I could underline all the things I wanted to remember.  I rarely share my books with another person because I don't want their mind to be drawn away from what it's supposed to glean from the words because the reader is looking at my notes.  Above is a quote that is truly profound.  Transforming our personal tragedies into triumphs.  What does that even mean?  Where on earth can we find the triumph in losing a job unexpectedly, a spouse losing the brave, warrior fight with cancer, or a child going to heaven before it could come home from the hospital with his mom and dad? How?  Well, that's where the miracle comes into play.  What I have found for me is a chat with myself (and then God, in prayer) that goes something like this, "I am so not thrilled with how this has turned out, however, I know that there is a reason.  Even though I can't see the reason this very second because I'm a sniveling, crying mess, I'm still going to tell myself that it was with reason."  Dr. Frankl talks about this a lot in his book...hence the title....and he often referenced people he knew in concentration camps who could bear gruesome conditions and brutality none of us can imagine because their lot in life was to find triumph in the tragedy.  I can't even imagine.  To say I was humbled by the stories he told would be an understatement.

Life really is a time for us to take control and work it out.  I hate to say it, but sometimes we just have to put on our tough kid cape and deal like a super hero. Many times dealing means having a brutal, yet loving reality check with ourselves (and God, in my case) and then using our brains to decipher the emotions from the solutions and then move forward.  As much as I would LOVE to lay in my bed with the covers over my head, I know that can only last so long before I go way cray and say to myself, "ok, Raylynn, you need to adult.  Like for reals, not the fake kind."  No matter our religious background or belief in a certain God, we all have a soul and a spirit inside of us that speaks to our heart and gives us the direction we need to live life to its fullest.  Dr. Frankl talked about prisoners who would get very creative with what little they had to cope and survive. He talked about the brain's ability to survive WAY more than we think it can because we have an innate sense of survival as human beings.  Absolutely beautiful, if you ask me and I've experienced it more times than I care to admit.
The will to live. For many it is difficult.  For many it is impossible.  It is tragic when someone is in a situation with the perception that their life is worthless.  What can we do to find the will when life is dark and sad and hopeless?  What did the concentration camp prisoners do?  They hid photos of their kids and spouses in their clothes, but most times they played mental videos of their perfect life at home.  It broke my heart to read the accounts of men (he only referenced men because they were segregated in the camps) who would talk about their beautiful wives and children and their homes and warm beds almost constantly.  Even in their delusional, malnourished state, they could almost always remember bits and pieces of the life they had before they were imprisoned.  He gave some staggering statistics about the survival rates of men who kept their brain and heart moving by remembering the "good old times" vs. the men who gave up and had a bad attitude and no hope for survival.  Our ultimate goal in life is to have the why so we can survive the how.  Why do you live?  Who do you live for?  The first thing that popped in my mind were the four little humans who call me aunt.  They are my sunshine and I am forever grateful that God has blessed me to be a part of their lives.  I live for them.  I absolutely do.  I also live for my future children who deserve to have a mother who was tough as nails in crappy, hard times and didn't give up.
As I said before, I wish I could share every single note and thought I had while I read this book, but then you wouldn't have a reason to read it and that is not OK.  If I haven't convinced you to read this amazing little book yet, I hope this last thought will.  The perfect race.  Ugh.  It breaks my heart over and over when I think about the underlying cause for the concentration camps and why Hitler's reign was one of the most tragic events in history.  In his mind, he had somehow deduced that there was only one perfect race and that Jews were not included.  How's that for a holocaust definition in one sentence?  Dr. Frankl shared his theory on race by dividing it in to two: decent and indecent. In a very real sense he saw this day after day in the concentration camps. There were extremely indecent Nazi soldiers who did inhumane things to the prisoners, but there were also those who were still human with hearts and took risks to help those prisoners they were keen on. Additionally, there were decent and indecent Jews living in the camps. Those who held the hand of their fellow prisoner when he was dying of a contagious fever so he didn't feel alone when he passed away. We are constantly bombarded with labels. I'm a better person because I have this or I attend this church or I have this skin color or I have this sexual preference.  Stop that. Stop it now. Are you a decent human being or aren't you?  That's the real question and we should all be able to give the answer for ourselves.

I am a better person for reading this book about the meaning of life and how those who had it far worse than I ever will found a way to embrace their triumph in the midst of tragedy.  I say it over and over that we can do hard things but it is TRUE! Put those reminders on the bathroom mirror that life will turn out for the better and that God has a plan and say them out loud to yourself every single time you see them.

The moral of the story: Figure out your why so that you can survive the how. Have a prayer in your heart that the peace will reside inside while the chaos continues outside.  Keep the faith.  Don't give up.

Until next time, my lovelies.

AudiobooksNow - Digital Audiobooks for Less

No comments:

Post a Comment