Meaning and Response-Ability

Nov 13, 2017 | Meaning | 1 comment

As a story teller and author I find meaning in my ability to live, love, listen, learn, laugh and inspire myself and others to engage life with a certain amount of enthusiasm and aliveness. The meaning lives in the interconnectivity between subject and object. The response-ability comes in being, doing and not doing. It’s a reciprocal engagement that allows for interaction and the ability to play a part that enlivens the story we live within. To find meaning in life requires a certain response-ability with oneself and the whole.

Victor Frankl found himself living a story he had no desire to live within. He was a Jewish psychiatrist living in Nazi Germany during World War II who was exploring the ‘will to meaning’ when he was taken with millions of others and forced to live and die in concentration camps. Many were immediately exterminated while others were forced into slave labor until they died of malnutrition, brutality and loss of meaning. This hellish environment taught him that self-actualization is but a side effect of self-transcendence.

When we broaden our field of vision beyond a present situation, a whole new spectrum of meaning and value can become conscious and internally known. Our responsibility is to actualize the potential meaning, commit ourselves to it and suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune for as long as it takes to live into that vision. The meaning comes as we keep our focus on the upward call of that meaning and purpose for ourselves and the world. We discover the meaning through doing, valuing and suffering.

The difficulty for us comes with the suffering. When suffering is however seen as part of the sacrifice for the meaning, it becomes tolerable. The Latin for sacrifice is sacer facere which means ‘to make holy’ or ‘to make whole.’ Suffering ceases to be suffering in some strange way when it has meaning. Dr. Frankl found meaning in his suffering and those around him through his vision of service for the future and in the moment.

From Victor Frankl: “The meaning of life differs from person to person, from day to day and from hour to hour. What matters, therefore, is not the meaning of life in general but rather the specific meaning of a person’s life at a given moment.”

From Herman Hesse: “I have always believed, and I still believe, that whatever good or bad fortune may come our way we can always give it meaning and transform it into something of value.”

From Carl Jung: “The least of things with a meaning is worth more in life than the greatest of things without it.”

For me, the bottom line here is to know that I’m responsible every moment of every day to find meaning in what I’m doing and being. My ability to respond is the freedom I have as a spiritual being living a human life rather than thinking of myself as a human being living a spiritual life or a materialistic, meaningless, hopeless life…….There’s no blame, shame, regret, fear, enslavement, revenge, inflation and no excuses. There’s only meaning and response-ability wherever we are. It’s our choice to be free or enslaved no matter what the circumstances. For Real?  Yes, taste and see. . . .

  • This week take a deeper look inside to see where there’s meaning and purpose in your Life. Take responsibility for your feelings, your actions, non actions, thoughts and words. Simply observe and process them. Appreciate the consciousness you’re bringing to them. Discover meaning wherever you are. . . .
  • Open yourself to what you consider your suffering. Re-contextualize it as a sacrifice for some greater good for you and the world. Find the meaning in sacer facere. . . 
  • Allow yourself to find value in the moments. Take time outs throughout your days to find the value, the meaning, the beauty in each breath, each smile, each interaction, each difficulty, each challenge and see what happens. Appreciate everything. . . .
  • What meaning does this article have for you? Make a comment here or email me at the address below and join the conversation. Meaning is here waiting for us everyday.

1 Comment

  1. John Mozer

    Again, Rick has presented an insight that has touched me personally and deeply. I have an incurable, untreatable, degenerative muscle disease. For years after being diagnosed, I have been angry and self-absorbed with the bad luck of getting this rare disease that has changed my life. Much of the time I would sit around the house feeling sorry for myself and depressed about the loss of what I had pictured for the later years of my life. Then I was given the opportunity to help the leader of the Colorado support group for this disease. What I do isn’t earth shaking – updating the members’ contact list, responding to email messages from the members, sending out meeting announcements and distributing a summary of each meeting to the members. My wife (and care-giver) also helps by bringing soft drinks and cookies to the meetings. These activities have allowed me to keep in touch with other people who are going through the same or even greater difficulties than I am experiencing. They are giving meaning to my life and thanks to Rick, I now have become aware and appreciative of this.

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