What is your "how"?
Updated: Sep 20
Victor Frankl in his book Man's Search for Meaning said "... any attempt to restore man's inner strength in camp had to first succeed in showing him a future goal. Nietzsche's words, 'He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how...' We had to learn for ourselves and furthermore, we had to teach the despairing men, that it did not matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life - daily and hourly." (pg. 76-77)
Now granted, I have no means whatsoever of personal comparison for the horror Victor Frankly went through in the Holocaust and his ability to dawn for himself and others a real sense and vision of hope in the darkest of darkest circumstances. However, I do and we do all share the will and discipline in our DNA manifested in him through our common connection of being human to survive. We have the choice - like Victor - to choose to will ourselves to persevere, to battle through any and all things. We have the potential to tap into an innate personal fortitude, a God given strength.
And yet for me for the last 25 years of my life, I've asked again and again,"What would life have of me? What does it want?" I kept asking questions like there was something it was doing for me and something it was magically making me into, like a potter shaping clay; like an artist painting life into a blank canvas. All I had to do was trudge along and wait for the great reveal.
My nagging question I now realize was selfish. I was waiting for it to be given to me, to be shown to me through the hand of someone else. I was anticipating a greatness (I know hyperbolic) to be birthed in me and that one day it would just appear, like the sun out of the harbor fog. It was as if I was just sitting in wait until the shape of my future was set, like hot steel hammered to its form by the blacksmith toiling over a hot pit of fire.
I realize now that is a victim mentality...the "poor me" syndrome that we so often cling to when we can't make sense of our battle, our circumstances, our fate, our lot. We act like "I've been dealt this terrible hand and it's cornered me into this dark, dank alley and violently pressed me against a cold wall with no way out. There must be something to all of this toil, this angst, this torture. There must be Someone or Something secretly and mysteriously planning for me a greatness, a success.
I'm sure you can relate - to a degree - that we all lie in wait for life, for God to inspire us, to gift us our rallying cry, to free us into our unfettered journey of our purpose. To make sense of it all. Turns out we have it all wrong. Actually life is asking us, "What is the meaning of your life? What is your place in this journey"? You see, it's actually the reverse. It's not about about what we expect from life. That's a selfish and very limiting perspective. Instead, we are continually being questioned by life "What is your purpose, what is your desired journey?What do you have for me?" It turns our that questioning over and over again is just an endless looping conversation with ourselves, with no resolve, with no end.
According to Victor, this is the antithesis of a perceived perspective of an historic plight. Instead of life revealing the mantle that we are to carry through our own diverse and divergent journeys, life is asking us, "What is the mantle you are designed to and wish to carry?" Go and decipher your calling. Go and find your mantle and bear it.