Posted in 2019, Non-Fiction, Self-help

Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

Last year, I volunteered to walk in the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention 5k Out Of The Darkness Walk. There was a booth there where a man was giving this book away. He said most people commit suicide because they can’t find their meaning. My friend, who volunteered with me, said David Foster Wallace (her favorite author) recommended this book as a must-read.

I believe the message was good: meaning will keep you going. Having him talk about his time in the concentration camps and what he experienced witnessing others fight and/or give up was very dramatic and well exemplified his theory. However, I felt the writing was very dry so it took a while to finish.

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

Suffering in and of itself is meaningless; we give our suffering meaning by the way in which we respond to it. At one point, Frankl writes that a person “may remain brave, dignified and unselfish, or in the bitter fight for self-preservation he may forget his human dignity and become no more than an animal.”

 

And there were always choices to make. Every day, every hour, offered the opportunity to make a decision, a decision which determined whether you would or would not submit to those powers which threatened to rob you of your very self, your inner freedom; which determined whether or not you would become the plaything of circumstance, renouncing freedom and dignity to become molded into the form of the typical inmate.

I remember reading a book where the author said his mom told him that as a human, your purpose was to overcome your instincts. To be better. Therefore, if your instict is survival, you were to strive to be more than just that.

I always wonder how I will behave if I were imprisoned. It is such a good excuse to ignore all morals and just go with it. It’s easier than enduring the pain without lashing out. However, I know that if I make it out alive, I wouldn’t be proud of myself or my behavior. It’s why the Stanford Prison Experiment was such an eye opener.

When I watched the first season of Orange Is The New Black, I remember thinking “how freeing must it be to let your filters down. To just go full mental.” I, of course, realized that this was only a show and that real prisons aren’t as lenient or fun as the show makes it seem, but the idea of not needing to care about your personality felt like a burden has been removed.

But a personality is very different than that of an identity. I think this whole book was focusing on remembering your identity throughout the situations. To never falter who you are for what is convenient in that moment. Frankl was spared from being treated badly because of who he was and how she expressed himself. He wasn’t preferred for any other reason.

The salvation of man is through love and in love.

As someone who has struggled defining what love is, this seems extremely discouraging. However, I do understand that love has some mystical powers that no other emotion has. It drives people insane. It gives them courage. It warms. It pains. It is the most difficult thing to explain.

A prisoner who had lost his faith in the future–his future–was doomed. With his loss of belief in the future, he also lost his spiritual hold; he let himself decline and became subject to mental and physical decay.

Depression, basically.

We have to consider that a man who has been under such enormous mental pressure for such a long time is naturally in some danger after his liberation, especially since the pressure was released quite suddenly.

This is a good definition of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Surviving is only the first part of the battle. Finding how to move on is the war.

What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task.

 

The existential vacuum manifest itself mainly in a state of boredom. Now we can understand Schopenhauer when he said that mankind was apparently doomed to vacillate eternally between the two extremes of distress and boredom.

 

Self-actualization is possible only as a side-effect of self-transcendence.

In other words, find a passion.

What can never be ruled out is the unavoidability of suffering. In accepting this challenge to suffer bravely, life has a meaning up to the last moment, and it retains this meaning literally to the end.

 

Freedom is only part of the story and half of the truth. Freedom is but the negative aspect of the whole phenomenon whose positive aspect is responsibleness.

(Frankl believes that the answer to the meaning of life is being responsible.”Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather he must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.”)

 

Featured image from: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/4069.Man_s_Search_for_Meaning

Posted in 2018, 2019, Children's Stories, Fiction

Maleficent by Elizabeth Rudnick

I must confess, I started reading this book during Thanksgiving 2018, in order to get away from my family. I was reading out loud in order to tune out the conversation being had in the living room. My niece overheard me and came to the room. Then my other niece came and they just became my audience, equally engrossed in the story.

Eventually, the day ended and I was only 50 pages in. Afterward, every time I visited, my niece wanted me to read to her.  This became her new bedtime story. My niece is 10 years old and loved the story.

I am not 10 years old but I too enjoyed the story. I did see the movie so I knew how it ended but it’s still fun reading about it. I love books where the villains are really good people (Wicked changed my perspective on the world).

I was never a fan of Sleeping Beauty when I was younger. I thought it was a joke that she fainted from pricking her finger in a spinning wheel. I didn’t understand the story very much and to be honest, the dragon, in the end, scared me (now I love dragons).

However, Maleficent is far from boring. The love story between her and Stephan is gag-worthy but the betrayal is juicy. Now, I do see how incompatible it is to have a good faery named Maleficent. They should have given her a name, then changed it to a Maleficent after she placed the curse in Aurora. A good example would be how Elphaba (in Wicked) was Elphaba before she became the “Wicked Witch of the West” (The Wizard of Oz). Let Maleficent be the name of her legacy, not her real name.

Spoilers ahead:

This book, unfortunately, did not have enough character development. I would have loved to see more chapters with Diaval and Maleficient alone just to gauge their dynamic without interruption. I would have liked to read more chapters with Aurora in the Moors to know exactly when Maleficent fell in love with her (as a daughter of course). I would have liked to read more about her childhood just to contrast how much she has changed. I wanted to get to know Maleficient more as a character and not just a victim of circumstances.

This book was released a month before the movie came out. I understand it was a marketing technique from Disney to get fans excited. I understand that the book is based on the movie and not the other way around. I still enjoyed the story so I could let it pass, but I do feel they have a great character and should do much more with her. With that said, there is a sequel to the movie coming out October 18, 2019, so, fingers crossed that they do her justice.

Featured Image taken from: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21949771-maleficent