Ever more people today have the means to live, but no meaning to live for.
Our lives have meaning and as Viktor Frankl found man’s search for it stems from an intrinsic need to have it. This need above all was particularly pronounced amidst the atrocities of Jewish concentration camps. There he observed that man can endure tremendous suffering and remain hopeful if there could be some glimmer of meaning for it.
Finding meaning whether it is through hardship or through the humdrum of daily life is a persistent human quest. It’s a quest that beckons even among the distractions and sedatives we administer to cheat our way out of it; it persists beyond coffee, delicious food, fancy cars and beautiful clothes. Although there is nothing wrong with loving these things! I certainly do. But rest-assured we are here for more than that.
I know because I am one of those people of today with decent means to live, but who needs more (and I’m not referring to more stuff). I need meaning. This blog is born out of my own personal and ever incessant need to find it in my life.
Here’s what I have learned so far: Our whole life here is a school of experiences. At the heart of this school are spiritual exercises–exercises in matters of the heart. Yes, I’m a professional civil engineer and I’m pretty good at my job, but my real work is of inner growth; the stronger I grow inwardly, the better I am at the service I provide. And if that translates to dollars and a higher level of trading with others for their service, then amen to that.
It’s with that conviction that I proceed forward in my school of experiences because without it, I would hardly find the discipline. Spiritual exercise is just like going to the gym. If you are like me it takes conviction in the results and a push-off the couch to get me to the gym. Actually I like to play tennis, but even then the energy required to get moving and overcome the inertia to do nothing is an act of sheer will.
I use the following affirmation to produce said act: I am here to grow on a journey not with-standing growing pains. Coffee, dark chocolate and laughter are the best remedies for these (growing pains, that is). I can forgive my bad choices or my unkind actions, if and only if, I find meaning from such mistakes and I learn from the experience for the better. (This is the push-off the couch I need to get to inner work).
In the end, my reward, my trophy is to take what I learn and channel it into my work, giving expression to the meaning I find. For Viktor Frankl, it was a book about the search itself. For you, it might be singing on stage or baking delicious cakes. Whatever it is you must find meaning and then express it.
Which ways you specifically need to grow and how to best express your talents, is a very personal and unique path. Thankfully, you don’t need to travel far to find it. It is where ever you are, at precisely the present moment. When you run into an obstacle in life, you are upon the thing you need to work on. Perhaps your anger at someone is your challenge to forgive or perhaps the emptiness of ambition is there to tell you that nothing you achieve is meaningful if it is only for personal gain.
So go ahead venture forward and don’t be afraid. You are not here to avoid mistakes, but to find meaning and to learn from them. It’s not an easy task. It literally is the burn of lifting heavy weights or the sweat of a long distance run (heaven knows do I not like running!). But in the end, the inner strength you gain is what you came here for (well that and the occasional chocolate croissant).
Have a good workout.