An excerpt to my Book review of Man’s Search for Meaning

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.”

Epilogue

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.

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One thought on “An excerpt to my Book review of Man’s Search for Meaning

  1. hello, allen… matagal-tagal na rin bago ka uli nakapagsulat, kapatid… at ngayon, ito ang mga isinatitik ng iyong plumang naglalayag at naghahanap… napakaganda nito. unang-una, matapat at tunay ang saloobin. matapang. naghahayag. nagtatanong. at, umaamin… ^^

    tunay ngang masalimoot ang buhay at lagi nating tanong kung nasaan ang lugar natin bilang isa lamang sa laksang nilalang na naandito. ano ang silbi natin at paano magagawa ang sariling kapaki-pakinabang habang nakakaranas din ng mga saya at nakapagbibigay o nakapagdudulot kahit paano nito sa iba.

    maraming sakit at pasakit sa buhay. maraming pighati ang ating masasalubong at matatagpuan. kailangan nating hanapin at tagpuin ang mumunting kaligayahan sa mga payak at nakatagong sulok, sa mga pang-araw-araw na gawain at engkwentro at sa mga kabayanihan at pagpupunyaging hindi napaparangalan at naitatanghal ngunit laging nagpapatuloy. kahit pa hindi tuwid at masukal ang daan sa lambak ng dusa, pagkariwara at kawalan ng pananalig.

    mahirap man, magtiwala tayong ang isang patuloy na naghahanap ay isang araw nakakatagpo at natatagpuan. sumisikat din ang araw, kahit pa tag-ulan…^^

    sana ay mas maigi na ang iyong lagay kaysa sa tatlong nakalipas, kapatid. sagwan ka lang… at, salamat. 🙂

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