Reading Viktor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning was an “assignment” from my first therapist, someone in the student health service at the University of Oklahoma whose name I have long ago forgotten. Which means, if you do the math, that I’ve been on and off the analyst’s couch for nigh unto fifty years. Others will judge whether that time was well invested (mine and the therapist’s); I’m of the opinion that it takes as long as it’s going to take. Though Frankl died in 1997, an interest in meaningfulness, the titular topic of Man’s Search…, is enjoying a revival, witness an article in The Atlantic that is making the rounds on social media. It’s time to reread the book.
I was about to hyperbolize that there are a bazillion quotes from Man’s Search for Meaning but “Goodreads” lists just 683. It’s not the number of quotations that matters, however; what does matter is the one quote from among those six hundred-plus that offers insight required by this very moment of your life. By the way, the text in the graphic above continues on the next page and, importantly, adds some reciprocity: it concludes “…potentialities. By making him aware of what he can be and of what he should become, he makes these potentialities come true.”
Meaningfulness itself is the core of Frankl’s text. [But so it is at the core of Monty Python’s “Meaning of Life”.] And its binary opposite is an even longer word, purposelessness, for which “Goodreads” offers only seven quotes. It’s curious that, at the age of seventy-one, the meaning of my own life is still elusive. So this should have been titled “Meaningfulness 1.0” because there will be a follow-up.