I am reading Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor E. Frankl. My friend, Heather, gave this book to me for my birthday a couple of years ago. I’ve been reading it slowly ever since.
It’s a tough read — not just because of his experience in the concentration camps of Nazi Germany, but because it deals with profound ideas about what ‘meaning of life’ is.
Lately, I’ve been struggling. (When aren’t I, some would say.) What is the meaning of my life? What is my purpose? These are questions that plague me daily. And so far, I don’t have any answers.
I go about my days with a huge ball of uncertainty in my gut. What, exactly, am I doing with my life? When I look back on it, especially having worked on my Zero to Sixty project — which still isn’t finished — I can see that I’ve done a lot of things, but none of them, with the exception of being a mother, really amount to much. I’ve dabbled but never committed.
Frankl says; “One should not search for an abstract meaning of life. Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life to carry out a concrete assignment which demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated. Thus, everyone’s task is as unique as is his specific opportunity to implement it.” What, I can’t help asking, is my concrete assignment in life?
Writing has always been a constant in my life, and I’ve had several small successes with it, but is it my purpose? And, if it is, why hasn’t it manifested in a greater way? Is it because I’m lazy or lack confidence or ambition? Is it simply a matter of not being good enough, not possessing the right combination of talent and desire? No, I believe it is because I lack one simple, fundamental and very necessary attribute: the ability to focus.
Why didn’t I become a teacher, a nurse or a professional BlackJack dealer? Why didn’t I pursue one of the many interests I had to completion? When I look at so many of the people I know they have all focused on one aspect of their life — they zeroed in exclusively on one special talent or ability and made that the central focus of their life. Whether it is pottery, waitressing, nursing, driving bus, working in an office, being an administrator, teaching — they all have one thing in common — strong focus.
So, the question is: Can I discover focus at the age of 60, can I cultivate it into something meaningful? Can I, before I die, identify and satisfy my purpose? Can I, as Viktor Frankl advises, “Live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now!”?