“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s way. And there are always choices to make.”
One might find these words very idyllic and, perhaps, impractical. But as they say, there’s always a story. A Holocaust survivor who grew to become a famed neurologist and psychiatrist wrote these words in a book, Man’s Search for Meaning. Viktor Frankl’s work became a phenomenal success. A poignant reminder to live life with hope, perseverance, and courage.
It might seem an unfair comparison to make. After all, each global disaster – be it war, conflict, or pandemic – unfold in their course. A course that changes the experiences, and thinking of people forever.
Here are a few
Seize the second life: As someone said: “Live as if you were living a second time, and as though you had acted wrongly the first time.”
Embrace death: Adopt the Bhutanese philosophy of contemplating death: It is said to be the grim side to the world’s happiest country – but only to the uninitiated. A gentle meditation on the cycle of life and one’s mortality only strengthen resilience, one’s ability to let go and remain happy.
We are guests: If Nature was to speak right now, what would she say? A whole COVID-born philosophy has mushroomed all around – ‘the earth is cleansing itself’, ‘the human race has done enough damage’, ‘it’s time to live life differently’. This might lead to individualistic and community-driven lifestyle changes. The metamorphosis could be gradual or sudden, short-lived or longstanding. Yet, as a poignant message reminds us: “You are not necessary. The air, earth, water, and sky without you are fine. When you come back, remember that you are my guests. Not my masters.”
Reach out and reach within: Time for an honest confession: How much are we stretching for ourselves and people around us? Are we using this time to undo and relook at some of our ways? This could also become an extended albeit uncomfortable holiday. Is it easy to maintain the energy and enthusiasm that we had when we started? Am I reaching out to anybody who could need me, even if it just means calling them?
Look for beauty: There is beauty in being uncomfortable, beauty in getting on each other’s nerves. Beauty in that moment of anger, when things are in disarray and the person next to you seems miles away. Did you catch the beauty in eating to your heart’s content and not worrying about supplies for a week? Or when days slip into nights with the same monotonous rhythm?
Capture the beauty of the every day, every moment…perhaps Nature is showing the entire world how to live mindfully in the present.
Choose your attitude: Every day, we get to wear our attitude. It could be a bright enthusiastic red or a mood that screams lack of sleep and don’t-come-near-me. A mellow yellow or a sunny orange. The amazing part of it all: it’s all in our hands. We’re our king-makers and our self-created paupers.
Make it count: And we paint each day. The rhythm is ours to set. Not an alarm that threatens us to action, nor a calendar alert pushing us towards a client call. Not the changing hues of the sun that gently push towards closing the day nor even the little birds that bid us goodbye. The rhythm is set by our inner being, setting a lightness of step or drooping of the shoulders. A ‘No’ that forms angrily in the mind or a slow peaking of perspectives.
There is no perfection. Perhaps it’s not meant to be.
There is no judgment. Who would it serve?
Righteousness does not have a place under this sun,
And self-defeat plays no role.
These moments are simply to harken yourself to yourself. And a growing awareness of the captain steering its ship.