The last time I tried a play-to-win contest, it was after we’d euthanized our old black Lab. At that time, as now, the message was similar: ”Please try again”… which I interpreted as meaning try again at the game of life. Despite the hurts, the loss, and disappointments, it’s still a beautiful world – although it’s trying hard not to be.
However, that doesn’t stop us from complaining. My wife’s aunt complained that she woke up every day wondering what else would be wrong with her. My navy vet dad would say that people don’t know when they’ve got it good.
Time and tide wait for no one; and, we’ve lost some wonderful people, over the years. I remember Uncle Earl saying to me at a funeral to look around… that many wouldn’t be here in another five years. Unfortunately, that included him.
The toughest situation is when your family and friends struggle with incurable diseases, like Uncle Earl, who died enduring Multiple sclerosis (MS). Yet, Earl was a witty guy. After visiting him, you were the one feeling uplifted – not the other way around! His sickness didn’t define him.
But what if you lost everything – health, wealth, family and friends?
We only have to remember the Nazi camps during World War II. The uprooting of Jews leading to the death of millions – with thousands of others emotionally and psychologically scarred. After surviving years with the daily threat of brutality and death, most had no home, or family, or communities to return to.
Survivor and psychiatrist, Victor Frankl, who lost almost all his entire family to the gas chambers, outlined his existentialist viewpoint in his book A Man’s Search for Meaning, “…to live is to suffer, to survive is to find meaning in suffering… each man must find out for himself.”
“He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how.” – Nietzsche
According to Dr. Frankl’s firsthand account, what alone remains is the last of human freedoms… the ability to choose one’s own attitude given any set of conditions. That’s a hopeful message to consider when re-focusing our resolutions for the new year. We have more control over our circumstances than we think.
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And, before we speak, may we be less critical by considering three questions from Canadian author, Louise Penny: Is it true? Is it kind? Does it need to be said? Because, we know what harm indiscriminate judgement can do worldwide.
The older I become, the more I realize I never did understand much about life’s important issues. You see, I was always the one being forgiven, never the one offering forgiveness. Now, I see that I’m just the man: somewhere between the blind, the sublime and the divine.
“Ain’t it good to know that… I’ll be there.”– You Got a Friend by Carole King
You might wonder how people – with comparatively less than most – live a meaningful life? Fred Rogers’ favourite quote by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, gives us a clue, “…what is essential is invisible to the eye.”