The sun is slowly rising up ushering the dawning of a new day. The mother and the father are sipping their first cups of coffee. Their schooling children are rising up from their bed. The mother attends to her children’s daily routine. She bathes, feeds them their breakfast and makes sure that their things are all in their individual school bags. Para Kanino Ka Bumabangon? (translation: Whom Do You Wake Up For?) is heard as a voice over. This is Nestle’s TV ad for Nescafe coffee but it sends a very clear message:
that each of us has our own reason for living and this reason is the meaning of our life, our existence.
In a nutshell, this is what Viktor Emil Frankl (1905-1997) an Austrian Jew, neurologist, psychiatrist and a Holocaust survivor, is saying in this 1946 originally-published book, Man’s Search for Meaning. He says that the life of each one of us has its own meaning. That meaning cannot be generalized. His theory of logotherapy which is a form of Existential Analysis, can be used to determine one’s meaning for living or even suffering. Using his horrendous experiences at Auschwitz concentration camp, which he narrated in the first part of this book, he said that he and the other survivors kept themselves alive by imaging and looking forward to their lives after the war. Those who felt hopeless and they could not picture themselves reuniting with their families after the war, perished. As if they had no longer any reason for living and thus they chose to die rather than to survive.
He also said that we should not ask for the meaning of our life. Rather, we should ask what life wants from us.
I have read several books about the holocaust. I have seen and liked Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List and read and liked Thomas Keneally’s Schindler’s Ark, Imre Kertesz’s Fatelessness, Elie Wiesel’s Night, Victor Klemperer’s I Will Bear Witness and of course Anne Frank’s Diary of the Young Girl. That’s why the first part of this book did not shock me anymore. However, there are some parts here that were new to me like Frankl’s heavy interactions with the Gapos, co-inmates but they have leadership positions and also he, as a doctor, had a chance to escape from the Auschwitz concentration camp together with another doctor. This was the first time I heard that a prisoner could well, almost successfully escape the camp.
The second part of the book is more on clinical analysis and theories about logotheraphy which Frankl pioneered. It is similar to psychotherapy but this one is more forward-looking. It is a type of existentialist analysis that focuses on a will to meaning as opposed to Adler’s Nietzchean doctrine of will to power or Freud’s will to pleasure. Rather than power or pleasure, logotherapy is founded upon the belief that it is the striving to find a meaning in one's life that is the primary, most powerful motivating and driving force in humans. (Source: Wikipedia).
And this striving to find a meaning is the reason why we wake up each morning. Ikaw, para kanino ka bumabangon?