An excerpt from the lecture:
In the Kaufering slave-labor camp, swinging a pick-ax at frozen earth in the pre-dawn and being insulted and kicked by guards of various levels of brutality, Frankl was living in and experiencing the “stubbly fields of the present” as he would say. But he discovered that he could turn to the rich granary of the past (both immediate and distant) and dip into the storeroom of memories—both of his wife and of seemingly trivial events. Frankl says of fellow prisoners:
[An] intensification of inner life helped the prisoner find a refuge from the emptiness, desolation, and spiritual poverty of his existence, by letting him escape into the past. When given free rein, his imagination played with past events, often not important ones, but minor happenings and trifling things. ... In my mind I took bus rides, unlocked the front door of my apartment, answered my telephone, switched on the electric lights. Our thoughts often centered on such details, and these memories could move one to tears.
Frankl was not escaping into a fantasy land, he was visiting again events and experiences that had contributed in one way or another to the meaningfulness of his life.
Frankl’s claim is that we discover our unique, personal meanings by fulfilling the responsibilities that Life places before us: by giving to life—creatively, by receiving from life—experientially, and by the stance or attitude we take toward those things we can neither change nor overcome.
When we are fully aware of the amazing gifts of Life, we become brimful with gratitude—and In spite of Everything Say Yes to Life. Trotsdem Ja zum Leben Sagen!