My Kit Bag For Choosing & Living A Meaningful Life
Some may argue that Covid-19 was a Black Swan event. Some will correctly say that this is inaccurate. A real Black Swan event must meet these criteria:
First, it is an outlier, as it lies outside the realm of regular expectations because nothing in the past can convincingly point to its possibility.
Second, it carries an extreme ‘impact.’
Third, despite its outlier status, human nature makes us concoct explanations for its occurrence after the fact, making it explainable and predictable.
I do not believe that it matters by definition. We know that it has impacted every country, over 32million people infected and nearly 1million individuals have lost their lives to it, which means that at least 4 million people have mourned the loss of loved ones. It is cataclysmic, and no doubt have led many people to ask “Despite all this, is there meaning left in life? If there is how on earth do, I give my life meaning?”
I recently read the book “SAY YES TO LIFE, IN SPITE OF EVERYTHING, by VIKTOR E FRANKL, the affirming author of MAN’S SEARCH FOR MEANING. This book was produced after three post-war lectures he gave in 1946 were found.
Frankl is an Auschwitz concentration camp survivor; he lost both his parents and his wife in concentration camps. As Frankl observed the brutality and degradation around him, he theorized that those inmates who had some meaning in their lives were more likely to survive.
He postulates whether there is meaning in life despite all we have endured, and I do believe that asking that now, as we live through Covid-19 is as necessary as it was then. Do we lament the bad and choose to focus on that and blame it on Covid-19 and by apportioning all blame to it, do we not make ourselves victims of it? Or do we accept those changes, find alternative ways to live and explore the possibilities change offers us and do we choose to bear the responsibility that this demands of us?
To come through a situation like Covid-19 (I am not referring to physical health outcomes here at all, but only the psychological and economic impacts thereof) requires of one to pack a few survival tools in your kit bag as you traverse through this unknown and treacherous journey.
I strongly recommend packing the following:
Belief in yourself, in life, in your family, belief in your faith.
Loads of love, love of self, loving-kindness and patience.
Acceptance of responsibility to make it work.
Willingness to learn and adapt.
Humility & Self Dignity.
Gratitude for what is.
Courage to make choices and make those choices work.
If you had asked me before and during Covid-19 what my kit bag would contain I would have given you this list above. My blogs bear this out, and you can visit them here https://www.findyourwings.co.za/blog/. Reading Frankl’s book now reaffirms my belief that to live a meaningful life, it is essential that you pack these items in your kit bag and that you use them liberally.
Frankl writes, “man has his dignity, and a human being should never become a means to an end. He states that what has remained is the person. Money, power & fame; nothing is certain anymore, not even health or vanity or ambition or relationships. Everything, reduced to only our existence.” He continues stating that “existence it’s nothing other than a decision and that it takes courage to bears this steadfastly”.
He queries what has come through to us from the past suffering and confirms three things:
1. Everything depends on the individual human being.
2. Everything depends on each person through their action, and action too in their community, and not merely their words.
3. A person, a unique, individual being, comes into his own in the way of love and being loved. One cannot earn love; love is not a reward, but a blessing. It is the nature of love that makes us see a loved one in their uniqueness and individuality.
Frankl states that the fact that someone is weary and feels exhausted is in itself, not a reason to stop. Everything depends on whether carrying on has meaning, that makes it worth overcoming the tiredness.
We give life meaning through our actions, but also through loving and finally through suffering. What allows us to remain capable of fulfilling our human value is in the way we choose to respond to our limitations and give meaning to our suffering.
So how we deal with difficulties indeed shows who we are, and this can enable us to live meaningfully, despite all the challenges.
Another well-articulated truism of his is “Life is not something; it is the opportunity for something”. This clarifies the necessity for us to Choose life, and to bear that responsibility, to give life meaning and not to see ourselves as victims of circumstances.
Frankl ends his 3rd lecture by saying, “there have been people who have said yes despite all the difficulties. When the inmates in Buchenwald concentration camps sang “we still want to say yes to life”, they did not only sing about it but also achieved it and they achieved it under unspeakable conditions externally and internally. To say yes to life is not only meaningful under some circumstances, but it is also possible under all circumstances.
It is up to us to choose to make something of life, to choose to bear that responsibility, to live it out through our actions and to live a meaningful life, no matter the circumstances.
I recently saw a LinkedIn post highlighting this truism. Many may at 65 feel we have not lived a meaningful life. Even at this age, it is not too late to say that life is the opportunity for something meaningful. As so brilliantly shown by Colonel Sanders, who only started selling his Chicken at age 65, after he wanted to end his life, which he thought was a failure. By 88 he was a billionaire. This is a brilliant example that it is never too late to start over and to live a meaningful life, creating not only wealth but careers for so many.
If life is the opportunity for something meaningful for you, pack the right Kit to traverse that journey, to live it fully, embracing all the gifts and opportunities it gives us.