I am from two countries, one cold, one warm, both fiercely independent.
I am from winters spent praying for snow, and summers spent camping, hiking, and horseback riding through the Appalachians.
I am from starting points far from the beaten track, conscientious objectors, romances in foreign lands, and ten thousand miles seen through the windows of airplanes, cars, trains, and ships.
I’m from the dark roads of unspoken southern manners, things not said about relatives, about suffering through instead of seeking help. I’m from the last days of an older era, where one could not be both gifted and broken at the same time.
I’m from winters spent volunteering, from guests learning English, from so many exotic cryptic languages, from the idea that morality trumps laws, that minorities matter, that helping is more important than succeeding.
I am from a religion people know from books, but not in person. I’m from a struggle between simplicity and the muddy realities of the world.
I’m from a place where what wood you smoke your BBQ with defines you, where cooking is a form of love, where the fall leaves dance like firelight. I’m from a place where being a neighbor is more important than what you believe.
I’m from the conflicted heart striving to walk proudly.
I am from the conflicted heart striving to walk proudly.
It does not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us.
Think of ourselves as 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 are constantly sets for each individual.
These tasks, the meaning of life, differ from man to man, and from moment to moment. It is impossible to define the meaning of life in a general way. Questions cannot be answered by sweeping statements. No man and no destiny can be compared with any other man or any other destiny. No situation repeats itself, and each situation calls for a different response. Sometimes the situation in which man finds himself may require him to shape his own fate by actions. At other times it is more advantageous for him to make use of an opportunity for contemplation.
Every situation is distinguished by its uniqueness and there is always only one right answer to the problem posed by the situation at hand.
In the concentration camp he says, “Whoever was still alive had reason for hope. Health, family, happiness, professional abilities, and fortune, position in society – all these were things that could be achieved again or restored. Nietzsche says that which does not kill me, makes me stronger.
Finding meaning in one’s life is the primary motivational force in man.
As each situation in life represents a challenge to man and presents a problem for him to solve, the question of the meaning of life may actually be reversed. Ultimately man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather he must recognize that it is ˆheˆwho is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life: to life he can only respond by being responsible…it must leave to him the option for what, to what, or to whom he understands himself to be responsible. …to interpret his life task as being responsible to society or to his own conscience.
The meaning of life is to be discovered in the world rather thn within man or his own psyche, as though it were a closed system.
Being human always points, and is directed, to something, or someone , other than oneself—be it a meaning one forges himself–by giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love—the more human he is and the more he actualizes himself.
What is called self-actualization is not an attainable aim at all, for the simple reason that the more one would strive for it, the more he would miss it. In other words, self-actualization is possible only as a side effect of self-transcendence.
The meaning of life can be discovered in three different ways:
1. By creating a work or doing a deed
2. By experiencing something or encountering someone: Experiencing something such as goodness, truth and beauty by experiencing nature and culture or, last but not least, by experiencing another human being in his uniqueness-by loving him.
3. Meaning can be found in work and/or in love
A human being is not one thing among others: things determine each other, but man is ultimately self-determining. What he becomes—within the limits of endowment and environment—he has made out of himself. Man has potential and what one actualizes depends on decisions and not on conditions.
When an individual’s search of meaning is successful, it not only renders him happy but also gives him the capability to cope with suffering.
Conscience is a prompter which, if need be, indicates the direction in which we have to move in a given life situation. In order to carry out such a task, conscience must a apply a measuring stick to the situation one is confronted with, and this situation has to be evaluated in the light of a set of criteria, in the light of a hierarchy of values. These values, however, cannot be espoused and adopted by us on a conscious level—they are something that we are.
Suffering is not indispensable to the discovery of meaning but meaning is available in spite of, even through suffering provided that the suffering is unavoidable. If it is avoidable, the meaningful thing to do is to remove its cause, for unnecessary suffering is masochistic rather than heroic. If you cannot change a situation, you can still choose your attitude toward it.
Man does have a choice of action. Man can preserve a vestige of spiritual freedom, of independence of mind, even in such terrible conditions (camps) of psychic and physical stress. Man can decide what will come of him—mentally and spiritually. He may retain his human dignity even in a concentration camp.
Having a future goal releases you from retrospective thoughts, not looking to the past but finding opportunities to make something positive out of a bad situation—being given the opportunity to grow spiritually beyond himself.
Gathers no dust…