REFLECTIONS ON EXPERIENCING
Viktor Frankl inspired me, when I was
diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 1998, to try to be “worthy of my suffering.”
Frankl in addition wrote powerfully about the meaning of life when one is
“Sometimes life demands of us the realization of creative values; at
other times we feel it necessary to turn to the category of experiential
values. At one time we are called upon, as it were, to enrich the world by
our actions, another time to enrich ourselves by our experiences. Sometimes
the demands of the hour may be fulfilled by an act, at another time by our
surrendering to the glory of an experience. Man can be ‘obligated’ to
experience joy. In this sense a person sitting in a streetcar who has the
opportunity to watch a wonderful sunset, or to breathe in the rich scent of
flowering acacias, and who instead goes on reading his newspaper, could at
such a moment be accused of being negligent toward his obligations.”
Frankl has here excellently expressed the Jewish ethic of life-affirmation,
consisting both of the performance of good deeds and the enjoyment of blessings We
would not want, on our deathbeds, to regret that we missed out on anything.
I’m looking at
Here is a beautiful poem by D. H. Lawrence on this subject:
When the ripe fruit falls
its sweetness distils and trickles away into
the veins of the earth.
When fulfilled people die
the essential oil of their experience enters
the veins of living space, and adds a glisten
to the atom, to the body of immortal chaos.
For space is alive
and it stirs like a swan
whose feathers glisten
silky with oil of distilled experience.
(to be continued)