I wandered down a darkened corridor that had a musty smell about it. Somehow I knew that I was dreaming but yet I couldn’t get myself to wake up. Plus, my legs seemed to keep me moving through that foreign corridor towards a faint light at the end. I reached my arms out and touched the outer walls fearing that if I didn’t have their support I would trip on something in the darkness. I continued walking till finally I reached the light and found myself in very bare and dust coated room. One quick look around and I could see the metal sheets that made up its walls and roof, while also noticing the pigeons that fluttered about on the higher beams. Looking towards my left I saw one wall was missing and standing there was a man with his back towards me gazing out. I walked towards him and stared out to. Dawn was just starting to break across the sky and the scene below us was of modern day Berlin.
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“It’s pretty isn't it Rohan.” he said.
“Yes I guess it is. But who are you and how do you know my name?” I asked.
“Of course it wasn’t always like this.” he said with a deep sigh. “There was a time many years ago when this very scene we see below us was the epicentre of where a great human horror story began.” He then turned towards me and said “I know all about you. But don’t I look familiar to you? If you think carefully you’ll remember me.” he said.
I stared at him again. The lean figure, the long trench coat, the white hair, clean shaven face and large glasses he wore. Slowly his name and history returned to me.
“Yes, of course you’re Viktor Frankl. You survived life in a concentration camp during World War II. You wrote the epic book “Man’s Search for Meaning!” I said enthusiastically.
“Indeed, I am the same man!” said Viktor, with a smile as he turned to look at me.
I couldn’t believe it. Here was a man who had undergone so much torture and pain. Someone, who like so many victims of war, lost everything but still found the will to survive and win over the circumstances he had been cast into by a cruel twist of fate.
“No Rohan. It was not a cruel twist of fate as you think. And yes I can read your thoughts to!” said Viktor looking at my puzzled expression. He turned away and continued, “What I underwent was dictated by my own karma and the fate of the world at that time. But the lesson to take away from that tragic period was my discovery of an essential part of life and the human psyche.” He paused for a moment and said, “I found meaning in my suffering, I understood the importance of finding a purpose or reason to survive and I focused all my energy on living and not dying.”
The outside world before us changed and I saw various images of the camp life he led. I stood there frozen with horror as I watched each sickening and twisted scene come alive in front of me.
“The most disheartening thing about suffering is that we are never told how long it will be. If we knew then perhaps it wouldn’t be as hard. But even so, we still question as to why it happens to us and what have we done to deserve such a fate.” Viktor said.
“Yes that’s true.” I said softly.
The scenes before us disappeared and the peaceful view of early morning in Berlin returned. We watched a pair of doves fly out from our room and into the morning sunlight, bathing themselves in its golden brilliance.
“No matter how trying our circumstances may be we must realize that in order to surmount them we need to be there for ourselves. We need to love ourselves and forgive ourselves for having reached that point.” Viktor said.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Our minds have the ability to trick us and make us believe that somehow we could have avoided the mess we are in and perhaps steered our life towards a more serene realm of existence. But the truth is we end up where we are based on all on our past decisions and feelings. What we need to do is to take care of ourselves and find a purpose and a way to escape from those circumstances.” Viktor said.
“But you were trapped in the camps. How could you possibly find a way to escape without being killed?” I asked.
“That is true. But by escape I mean not giving up or just accepting what life throws at you. I always kept my purpose close to my heart while I was in prison and I promised myself that when the war ended and if I lived to see that day, I would use my life to help others find meaning in their lives and help to rebuild Europe in whatever way I could. I believe that’s exactly what I did through my research, consultation with my patients, my educational courses, my books and the establishment of my doctrine of Logotherapy.” Viktor said with a smile. “People since that time and even now benefit from my life’s work and knowing that I have made that difference to their lives as well as whatever I could do for my fellow inmates while in the camps, gives me an unbelievable sense of happiness and accomplishment.”
He turned to me and said “You Rohan; you to are at a crossroad. You need to find your meaning and purpose. Money will last for a while but you cannot take it with you when you die. Your awards and honors may hold some meaning even after you’re gone. But finding a purpose for your life, giving it your best and letting it benefit all human kind, well, that would be truly remarkable. For you need to escape from the dark night you’re living in and find the new dawn in your life.” Viktor said.
I looked at him and then turned away towards the morning sky. “Yes that may be noble but I don’t know what meaning my life should have. Would you know?”
I turned and he was gone. I looked around the room but he was nowhere to be seen. “Viktor? Where are you? Can you tell me?” I called out.
Then I heard him from somewhere far away. His voiced echoed and I could barely make out the words at first. Then it became loud and clear.
“Find your meaning....find you’re purpose....don’t stop till you do!”
As the words faded I kept thinking for many minutes on what that could be. I turned around again and watched a then sleeping world awaken to a brand new day. And just at that point a thought began to move forward and take center stage in front of my mind’s eye. Time stopped.
“Yes, that’s it! That’s what it was all along.” I whispered to myself. My meaning had become clear. I finally knew. The Dawn had arrived! Next Take please!