Viktor Frankl was an Austrian psychiatrist born in the early 1900s. He wrote a classic called, “Man Search for Meaning.” If you haven’t read it, you should check it out. If you’ve read it, you should re-read parts of it all the time, as I’m fond of doing.
Victor Frankl was also a Jew and a Holocaust survivor. He had seen the worst that man has to offer. To me at least, what he says in the book is that if you have a purpose, if you have meaning in your life, the kind of true meaning that can come only from living for something you believe in, you can pretty much get through anything.
He has many famous quotes but the one that really stuck with me is: “Live as though you’re living a second time and as though the first time you lived, you did it wrong, and now you’re trying to do things right.”
To have this strange notion, live as though you’re living a second time, at the forefront of your mind becomes a sort of meditation, at least it has been for me. It’s a focused intention I carry with me as I get tossed about by life’s vissisitudes. Every moment then, becomes at least a little bit changed from the very act of embracing that idea. Getting it correct, getting it right this time, in this very moment, is what it’s about. It’s a unique pathway to doing what everyone seems to be talking about, but so few are actually doing, which is to be present in one’s own life. I believe Victor Frankl is saying, “Now is the time to stop whatever it is that you don’t like about yourself. Now is the time to change.”
Accepting the idea that perhaps this life of ours is all one profound mulligan, adds a little urgency, a little agency, and a little push, to accomplishing whatever it is that we want to do, whatever it is we want to change. I keep telling myself that this is not a dress rehearsal. I say this because I have a tendency to forget it, but this is it. This is the shot that we get.
Time as we know, when we truly consider it, is not something that we should ever take for granted, but then again, we often don’t consider it, and so we often do take it for granted. You’ll hear people say, “well, you know, I have a couple of hours to kill…” The idea of even saying that you have a couple of hours to kill isn’t right. It’s something that should make you feel pained inside. All we have is time.
From Victor Frankl’s perspective, time is the canvas upon which we paint the story of our lives. He would insist though, that we paint that picture with a clear sense of purpose.