What Is Life Asking of You?

16 11 2011


“The real test of a man is not when he plays the role that he wants for himself but when he plays the role destiny has for him.”–Vaclav Havel


The author of the above quotation was by training and temperament a playwright.  A playwright who eventually was called upon to lead the Czech Republic in the aftermath of the fall of the Iron Curtain.

Vaclav Havel.  Playwright.

Vaclav Havel.  President.

This immediately calls to mind another playwright—a Pole.  This one happened to be a cleric in the Roman Church.  Incardinated.  Karol Wojtyla.

Karol Wojtyla.  Playwright.

John Paul II.  Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church.

I’m certain that if you had the chance to talk to both of these remarkable men as they played the role destiny cast upon them, they’d probably wish—at least in the unguarded moment—for a simpler time where they plied their art.

But destiny—and God—often have different designs on us.  And we must answer the call.

I finally took the time to read Viktor Frankl’s remarkable book Man’s Search for Meaning last year.  It had come highly recommended by Stephen Covey and others.  A short read.  But profound and lifechanging.

Frankl was a Viennese psychiatrist.  And Jewish.  Like the many millions who made up pre-World War II European Jewry, he eventually was sent to a concentration camp.  Theresianstadt.  He watched many of his fellow Jews and countrymen perish at the hands of the ghoulish Third Reich.  But he did not.

Frankl discovered, in the hell of Hitler’s camps, that though the Nazis could imprison his body, they were powerless to imprison his soul.  Unless, of course, he gave them that power.  Viktor Frankl learned that he alone could control his thinking, his attitudes toward life.  Prison camp guards were powerless in this critical arena.  While on march and working his body to exhaustion with meaningless and grueling manual labor, he could choose to think of his family or write books in his head.  Which he did.  He trumped the Nazis right in their own arena.

He learned a very hard truth in the crucible of the death camps.  It is this:  Life asks questions of every single one of us.  It is our responsibility to step up and answer the questions life demands of us.  It became the basis of logotherapy which Frankl founded.

What role does life expect of you?  Will you answer the call, though you’d rather occupy another?




2 responses

17 11 2011
Paul Gorelick

Chris, that was a terrific read. I hope you realized what I wrote to you was constructive criticism not criticism.. What I meant was when you said in a prior post that Kath and I were getting used to the empty nest. People don’t know who Kath is i.e. your wife. What you just wrote was beautiful and very educational for me. Love, Paul

17 11 2011
Christian Fahey

Oh Paul, not offended at all. I know your heart. I probably need to remember that not everyone who reads this knows who my wife is. I really appreciate you giving your support here. It makes it that much more worthwhile writing. Love as always 🙂

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