“Challenging the meaning of life is the truest expression of the state of being human.”
So said neurologist and psychiatist Victor Frankl. This sentiment touches the flickering core of me. The search for meaning is pivotal to my human experience. It’s what drives me forward. It’s what drives the human experience forward. This search for a visceral POINT to life is what dragged us from the primordial soup to the top of the food chain. We’d be amoeba without it. Or cud-chewing cows. I love this clip from 1972 of Frankl discussing the importance of this search. I found it on TED this morning.
Frankl’s raw enthusiasm makes me smile. And get a bit teary. He’s all love and is so light.
And I like his flight analogy, and this idea of crabbing…whereby a plane has to head north of it’s destination when there’s a side-wind pushing it south. Extrapolated out: to land where your truth is, you have to aim high, as winds will send you backwards. You have to be an idealist to wind up a realist. If we take humans as they should be, they can then become what they can be.
So often I’ve tried to water down my search, fearful that I’m penetrating too far. I started my search at the age of about 11 or 12. I went to different churches. I listened to Radio National’s Search for Meaning series. I travelled and asked questions and studied philosophy and had breakdowns and went dark. Now I write a bloody column every week about it. And this blog. At times I’ve backed off because I’ve wondered if there’s a point to the pain I was putting myself through.
Which is why Frankl’s thoughts are a big hug to me. Aim high! Further than you think you should. Because it will bring you back to the right set-point. Your truth.
He says that if we don’t recognise another’s search for meaning, we make them dull. If we don’t honour our own search, we make ourselves dull.
And with that, I eat some peanut butter toast.
PS. For all you heavy reflectors out there, who punish yourselves for it from time to time (as I do), this study says talking deeply makes you happy. So there.