What is to give light must endure burning

Viktor Frankl is the founder of logotherapy (from the Greek logos, “word”), and author of Man’s Search for Meaning “in which he outlines how his theories helped him to survive his Holocaust experience and how that experience further developed and reinforced his theories”. There are many videos on YouTube showing his speeches and interviews, though this video of clips is a good short introduction to the man behind the meaning.

I find this method fascinating for its simplicity: “Striving to find meaning in one’s life is the primary motivational force in man.” (Viktor Frankl, 1992, Man’s Search for Meaning, p. 104) There are three possibilities from which he thought the meaning of life could be derived:

  • Creating a work, or doing a deed
  • Experiencing something, or encountering someone
  • The attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering

Creating a work is very meaningful for me in the form of my crafts of making maile and mead, which bring joy and fascination to its patrons. I love making custom jewelry pieces which keep meaning for whom I make them, or a blending of flavors to make a wonderful taste in the brew.

On the second point, I listen to many TED Talks which raise me out of a funk, and get me back to dreaming of loftier goals. I have made notes during the past few years since acquiring this habit, and am now getting around to putting pen to paper and publishing it for public scrutiny.

One of my favorite quotes of all time is from Frankl is along the lines of the last point: “What is to give light must endure burning”. To me, this means pain itself isn’t meaningful, but the lessons we learn from our own pain can be used to give comfort to others going through the same pain. That’s what I hope to do with this blogging project, give comfort to another, even if it’s only to my future self, pouring over these pages to make a connection between the points


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