Last weekend I set up an at-home retreat. I set the intention of perspective, clarity, and reflection on the past few months. The idea was to journal and meditate, but first I was overcome by a spontaneous and suddenly very important need to tidy my apartment.
At first I resisted. This wasn’t the work! In the end I gave in, which was for the best. I didn’t know tidying would present me with exactly what I was looking for, finding meaning in a box of old journals, gathering dust. As I scanned the pages nostalgia filled the room and my body fell still, as if stepping off a treadmill I didn’t realize I was running on.
The Journal of Life
That weekend I finished reading Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search For Meaning. This article is largely inspired by his ideas and profound outlook on life, love, and suffering. This passage was fresh in my mind as I looked at my old journal:
“As soon as we have used an opportunity and have actualised a potential meaning, we have done so once and for all. We have reserved it into the past wherein it has been safely delivered and deposited. In the past, nothing is irretrievably lost, but rather, on the contrary, everything is irrevocably stored and treasured. To be sure, people tend to see only the stubble fields of transitoriness but overlook and forget the full granaries of the past in which they have brought the harvest of their lives: the deeds done, the loves loved, and last but not least, the sufferings they have gone through with courage and dignity.”
The treadmill is my metaphor for the stubble field of transitoriness. It’s so easy to get caught in the day-to-day trance, moving quickly from one thing to the next. But what happens when we step off? And set aside sacred time to explore the full granaries of the past?
As I read old diary entries I felt the richness of Frankl’s words, the seeds planted on the page. The sweetness of sentiment was inspiring. My imagination came alive. I flash forward to the point immediately after my death. I’m in a small room with no recollection of how I got…