The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts


There rarely has been such unanimity in a desire to put a year behind oneself.

The desire to get back to a sense of feel-good is overwhelming for many as they look back at the losses, the hardship, the risks, the sadness, the fear, the instability, and many more elements making the year a difficult one for them.

It’s our collective memory at work. One that tends toward amnesia and erasure as Maria Popova describes it. And maybe, that’s not how change works. It is there.

Taking up Viktor Frankl’s lost lectures “About the meaning of life”[1] I found him reminding us, that the average person will experience much more moments disliking things than liking things. He concludes that this makes it useless to try to live a life of liking. Going on he explains that happiness cannot be forced. It cannot be a goal. It can only be an outcome.

Frankl invites us to see a 180-degree shift in looking at life. The question isn’t “What can I expect from life?”, it can only be “What does life expect of me?”

And 2020 did put a lot of questions in front of us. Many of which are relevant to our generation and even more so future generations. They are relevant to how we shape life on this planet.

The answers will be in the change we all make happen.

After years spent in concentration camps, that’s how Viktor Frankl put it in 1946:

“Today every impulse for action is generated by the knowledge that there is no form of progress on which we can trustingly rely. If today we cannot sit idly by, it is precisely because each and every one of us determines what and how far something “progresses.” In this, we are aware that inner progress is only actually possible for each individual, while mass progress at most consists of technical progress, which only impresses us because we live in a technical age.”


[1] The English title “Yes to Life: In Spite of Everything” is closer to the original title “… trotzdem Ja zum Leben sagen” (… say yes to life anyway). And yet it feels like a tribute to positivism. The way I read Frankl is that he doesn’t lean into the dichotomy of for and against. It is yes to the choices we can make.


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