Okay, yesterday I said I’d only do one pandemic post, but circumstances change and so does our approach. Here is take 2. It’s more important than yesterday’s.
Viktor Frankl was a Jewish psychiatrist who was sent to the concentration camps in WWII. Famously, he was academically interested in why some people survived the camps, and others didn’t. notwithstanding the misfortunes of selection and random execution, the ones who weren’t so unfortunate either died, or they did not.
To cut a long story to the chase, Frankl concluded that the ones who lived were those who had a firm vision of their future. For Frankl himself it was a vision that he would teach what he’d learned to students, with a view to it never happening again.
Norman Cousins was a man who, according to Wikipedia, used his mental faculty to overcome a debilitating condition. It is said he made laughter one of his main medicines, along with a personal determination to overcome his personal, physical challenges – and he succeeded.
We live at a time when a virus threatens the existence of those physically unable to fight it. I’ll admit it plays on my mind, as I have what may be one of those pre-existing medical conditions. But it isn’t just about me – I have two beautiful grandchildren, four lovely kids and a beloved wife. I can’t conceive of life without any of them, particularly the young. But that also means if I’m gone, I don’t get to see them grow. So it is me, but it’s them too.
So now, more than ever, I think it is time to consider positivity, laughter, and a firmly envisioned plan for the future that will provide hope for us as individuals and, in the end, for all of us.
I have no doubt that despair does not serve the physical body, and I firmly believe that some people who died did so because they lacked hope, or a sense of purpose. They thought, “I’m done here.” Which in the case of the elderly may, for them, have a been some kind of satisfaction. It’s not cruel or judgemental to say that. If it was, then the person who thought of the term for the dying of ‘Blessed release’ is equally evil. It is just a belief, no more.
Anyway, like Hemingway, I want to die only when I am all used up, and that isn’t yet.
Today is the day I carry out my planning for the week, and part of that plan will be to consider my long term future. What do I want to create in this world, what legacy do I wish to leave for those kids? How am I going to achieve that? Not just in terms of tasks but in terms of the way I conduct myself – hopefully with integrity, with the fullest congruence between my values and my behaviours.
I’ll ask you all to do the same. Design your future as if all will pass as well as it can, for you.
At the same time, I will tie up my camel by ensuring that my immediate family is cared for, provided for, supplied and kept as healthy as they can so that if it does strike, they can be part of the 80% who just get a sniffle. But not, I hope, at the expense of anyone else. I will get enough for our needs, and no more. those who are stockpiling a year’s worth of soap for the 14 days they may have to stay at home are selfish. No question.
Plan a spectacular future. See it in your mind’s eye and start working towards achieving your dream and towards leaving your legacy. Review and recommit to your Mission. Frankl and Cousins need your support. And your health and welfare may depend on it.
And if fate should decide otherwise, let me face it with integrity and set a good example.