When my focus was set squarely on my list of materialistic goals and what I thought would bring me happiness, I thought freedom was being able to choose whatever I wanted to do within my environment. Really, I had the ideas of Liberty and freedom flip-flopped. But then I think Victor Frankl was blessed with a perspective that so few of us ever could possibly grasp.
With zero Liberty, as a Jewish psychiatrist in a WWII concentration camp, he was able to choose his own internal freedom despite the horrors that he experienced without ending. Witnessing all of his family eventually violently murdered at the hands of the Nazis, he chose to hold onto his own center, no matter what happened to him. He had no access to any chemicals nor confidants to commiserate with, nothing to dull or lessen his most proximate and horrifying reality.
He could have checked out quite easily by unconsciously stepping aside and allowing his ego to assume control of his experience, but instead he did what so few of us would ever summon the courage to do. He held onto his awareness and consciously chose to live, to let his captors do whatever they could throw at him, but steadfastly never allowing them access to the most fundamental part of himself.
I don’t think of Frankl’s plight and feel guilty about my own relative weakness, nor do I compare myself to him necessarily, but through his example I know that the human spirit, the soul pushed to such extreme limits, can not only endure so much more than we think we are capable of, but that we are so much more than we suppose we are.
When it comes to surviving, be it at the hands of the Nazis, or the disapproving countenance on our landlords face, we tend to give those who we think are in the position of power too much of our own. I know I have innumerable times, I’m just learning not to so much anymore.