“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any How”- Nietzche
This past week, I have been intensly working on a paper for my psychology of death class. It is the second paper for that class, and I think I did pretty well with it. The paper was a book report on “Tuesdays with Morrie”, a book that I have recommended before. It’s a bit different, treating it as a resource for a paper rather than reading it because of a love of the written word. Both approaches definitely have their value, for sure, but they are different.
In my paper, I also drew extensively from Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning”. Written a generation ago, the truths between those covers is timeless and powerful. I also drew upon my own experiences of dealing with depression and loss in my own life.
Frankl is a concentration camp survivor, and Morrie Schwartz is a man dying of ALS who disburses life wisdom like gumdrops to sports writer, Mitch Albom. Both Morrie and Frankl have much in common to share with the world (if the world reads their books). Both men spoke about the psychological tension within each of us that propels us toward action. Both en spoke about the importance of finding meaning in one’s life. Both men spoke about the importance of love and beauty and detachment. These two books are written with very different voices and in different times. One written by a young man whose interest up to that point had been sports and money, about an aged man who seems young at heart and the other by a young man who has witnessed more suffering than most old men ever will. One is the story of a sociologist and one is the story of a psychologist. Both who found their life’s meaning in helping others to find theirs. Both books intersperse memories with wisdom in very different ways and each is poetic, direct and stark at times.
If I get nothing else out of my class on the psychology of death, I will always remind myself that my suffering is the same as others, no greater, no less. And that in the inevitable end, all will be made equal by death.