llow me to burden you with two remarkable stories that unfolded before my very eyes in the course of this past week. The lessons learned resonate deep within my soul and it’s my hope they will awaken your true essence.
It was June 3rd and a busy Saturday prior to Memorial Day here in the US. The atmosphere at home was brimming with excitement as we celebrated my wife’s birthday. After a nice little family dinner, we agreed to accompany the birthday girl to her favourite mall on the outskirts of town. Unbeknownst to us, our plans would encounter an unexpected spoiler, quietly lurking in the shadows.
As we approached the mall, the whole place was buzzing with raw energy. The allure of last-minute holiday bargains had drawn in throngs of eager shoppers, creating a frenzy of activities. Traffic was an absolute nightmare, with cars jostling for position, desperately trying to find a parking spot. It seemed as if everyone had descended upon the mall at the same time.
Amidst the chaotic queue, a worn-out red Toyota Camry emerged, defying traffic norms. The driver, in a display of frustration, threw his hands up and sneered, swiftly overtaking us with reckless abandon. The car’s tail swung wildly, colliding forcefully with our vehicle, sending a shiver down our spines. The impact was jarring, leaving us stunned.
Caught in the aftermath of its daring move, the Camry skidded off the track and teetered on the edge of total disaster. Miraculously, the driver, a middle-aged black man, emerged from the wreckage unscathed and continued on his way, as if nothing had happened. He showed no interest in checking if anyone was hurt, but his car bore the weight of the damage it had incurred.
Story number two:
I dialed my friend, the one I often meet at our favourite watering hole in town. Our regular visits were never really about the quality of the drinks served—after all, we rarely finished more than a single glass of margarita. Instead, it was the vibrant ambience and the enchanting experience of being surrounded by happy and gregarious people.
However, on this particular day, as the phone rang, I discovered that my friend wouldn’t be able to join me. A sombre tone weighed heavily in his voice. Long story short, a dear friend of his wife who had come to spend a joyful vacation with his family had been struck by a merciless blow—her life cut short by a malignant cancer that ravaged her body, leaving devastation in its wake.
The entire narrative, from the shocking diagnosis to the untimely passing, unfolded within a space of four weeks. As I sit here, penning these words, the deceased lies in the morgue, her presence a stark reminder of the fragility of life. The vicarious pain I feel for my friend and the profound loss they’ve endured is a burden that weighs heavily upon my heart.
Viktor Frankl was an Austrian Jew, psychiatrist, neurologist, and Holocaust survivor. During the Holocaust, Frankl was imprisoned in Nazi concentration camps, including Auschwitz, where he endured immense suffering and tragically lost his parents, brother, and wife.
Frankl’s observations while navigating through those harrowing life experiences formed the foundation of his psychological approach, which he named logotherapy. This approach revolves around the profound belief that discovering meaning and purpose is crucial for human well-being. These invaluable insights were eloquently chronicled in his renowned masterpiece, “Man’s Search for Meaning.”
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom”. Those Viktor Frankl’s timeless words resonate with a depth that can reshape our lives. Picture this: a chaotic moment at the mall, where danger seemed imminent as a reckless individual jeopardised the safety of me and my loved ones.
What if I had succumbed to my anger, chasing him down, plunging into a regrettable altercation? What if he possessed a firearm, eagerly seeking any excuse to extinguish a life? Thankfully, none of those nightmarish scenarios unfolded. Why? Because I heeded Frankl’s wisdom and embraced the significance of that vital space.
Within the complex tapestry of human connections, we are bound to cross paths with individuals who radiate negativity, displaying unpleasantness, rudeness, or a critical disposition. However, amidst this intricate web, a profound truth emerges: their abrasive conduct often serves as a veiled reflection of their own internal battles, unresolved struggles, and deep-rooted insecurities. It’s not about you.
In the face of adversity, remember it is your response, your unwavering resilience, that will shape your destiny. Choose growth, choose liberation, and let the misguided arrows of others bounce harmlessly off the impenetrable armour of your self-belief.
One more thing: life’s fleeting nature demands that we ceaselessly chase after our dreams, unburdened by the trivial setbacks that pepper our journey.
Like everyone else, the young lady harboured boundless aspirations, only to be abruptly silenced by the call of death. Let her story awaken within us a profound realisation: while we toil diligently towards our goals, we must not neglect the very essence of life itself.
Here are few tips; prioritise experiences over material acquisitions; if you haven’t found your life’s passion, make it your mission to discover it. The joy it brings will spill over into all aspects of your life.
Keep in mind that life’s fairness isn’t guaranteed, yet the true tragedy lies not in its brevity but in our reluctance to wholeheartedly embrace it while we still can.
As we bid farewell to the young mother whose life was tragically cut short, let her spirit shine brightly, igniting hope and inspiration in each of us. May her grieving family discover solace and uncover moments of joy amidst the ashes of sorrow. Amen!
Osmund Agbo writes from Houston, Texas. Email: [email protected]