I can proudly say that I appreciate Logotherapy because I can easily relate to what it tells about one’s feeling of meaningless in life, that is, the existential vacuüm. Why? Before I go to college, I lost the feeling of desiring what I want for myself in the future. I do not know what I want for myself in the future. As a five-year old child, I wanted to become a soldier. But as a fifteen-year old teen, I do not know what I want for myself in the future.
After I graduated in high school, I felt that I do not want to go to college to study. To tell the truth, it’s been two years when I met a problem in my choice of courses that I want to take in college. Back then, I was assessed that I am recommended to take up courses that are related to the Arts and Crafts. As a varsity chess player since Grade 5, I know that I excel in Spatial Intelligence. During that time, I felt that pursuing courses such as Fine Arts, Architecture, Music, or even being a varsity chess player in college wouldn’t guarantee me monetary rewards. “Walang pera sa arts o music. (There’s no money in pursuing arts or music)” I didn’t admit to myself that during that time, I have passion for arts, yet I lose hope before I give myself a chance in trying to pursue what I want during that time. “Sumuko na ako ng hindi sumusubok (I quit even before I tried).” So, I ended up not taking courses related to Arts and Crafts. And yes, for two years in my last years of high school, I was having a problem in taking up what course do I want in college.
That situation would be considered as a secondary reason why I lost meaning in my life. The primary reason that I feel worthless during that time is that when I started to doubt my religion. It was in my third year high school when I doubt the existence of God, that I am too insignificant, and that I feel very small when I think that I am just a small bit of sand in the sea compared to the vast heavenly bodies in the outer space. During those times, I was depressed and felt angry at the same time. I doubted all the teachings from the church. Paradoxically, I was educated in a Catholic School run by Marist Brothers for eleven years. From Prep up to 4th year high school, I couldn’t stop myself from doubting about what teachings I had received in that span of time.
Failure to decide what course I want in college and doubting my religion are the two reasons why I felt the so-called existential vacuum. I felt worthless. I felt that the future doesn’t promise me anything. In short, I questioned life itself. But after reading the statements in a part of the Meaning of Life, found in part two of the Book, it make me realize that I am indeed questioned by life. But how can I answer to life? And to rephrase the statement found in the book: “I can only answer to life by answering for my life; to life I can only respond by being responsible.”
In the same part of the book, Frankl quoted a question posed to a chess champion: “Tell me, Master; what is the best move in the world?” I can easily relate to the analogy by Frankl because of course, I am a former chess varsity, who at the age of 17, had retired early. I agree that there is no such thing as the best move in chess. It depends on the situation.
I believe it’s the same with my life. Bruce Pandolfini, a chess teacher, once stated that: “chess is a failing game.” Yes, as a chess player, I can testify to that. I lose more than I win. I fail more than I succeed. I fail in playing chess and in life. Yes, during these time of my life, I fail at courting women, I fail quizzes and exams, I lose my part-time job because of tardiness, I fail the expectations of my father for me to become a Marist Brother, and I fail more that even five pages of bond paper couldn’t testify to it.
Looking at my own failures, I can’t help but to feel self-pity. But despite all of these, I think I deserve all these failures that I had. I deserve all the tears I shed because of my failures. I deserve all my failures. All of these made me tougher and wiser than before. It made me a better person than I was back then. I really deserve all of these. The hundredth page of the book can testify to all these as it stated: “But there was no need to be ashamed of tears, for tears bore witness that a man had the greatest of courage, the courage to suffer.”
Indeed, life is full of sufferings. I can only respond to life by being responsible of these sufferings. I can say yes to life in spite of everything.
Written last August 3, 2009, three years ago.