Book Nook: Man’s Search for Meaning

Barbara’s Book Nook

61105“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” 
― Dr. SeussI Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

I have a love affair with books. Books are my reckless passion in life. They are my friends, my enemies and my lovers; I will abandon one for the lure of another. I have no control, books just burst into my life, fill up my mind and shelves, stack up on my tables and lurk in the corners. They hide out under my bed, camp out inside my car and clutter my home and office.  Some get forgotten others are cherished and handled with affection. I have many of these friends that have captured my imagination while others left me unfulfilled and I abandon them unread only to return to them years later when our love is again renewed. And others I just gorge myself upon until I can no longer function, giving up sleep and all nourishment until I have consumed them entirely.

Books have allowed me to gaze into my unknowns within professions and sciences. They open my mind to diverse theories. They expose me to multiple cultures, politics and mystical places and tempt me with the beauty of the arts by creating intriguing links to design theories. They stir my imagination and curiosity. I love them all and quote them in my lectures and writings. Yes, I confess, I have love affairs with my books.

I am often asked to recommend my favorites, and this is the genesis of my “Book Nook.”

41jNJ1FrUlL._SX307_BO1,204,203,200_Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl, (1946)

Man’s Search for Meaning resides at the top of my “must read” book list. I first picked it up when recommended at a Design conference back in the 80’s. For me it has been the most powerful and influential, truly changing my life and impacting my work more than any book I have ever read. I have read and reread it many times, given it away and bought more. This book has changed my life permanently altering the way I see the world, my view of life, love, suffering, beauty and especially what it means to be human.

This is Frankl’s own story of psychotherapy upon surviving Auschwitz. Viktor speaks frankly about his own discovery of “why” and what empowered him to endure atrocities. In his darkest moments, he found that “It did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning and life and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.” (Frankel, Viktor E.)

How did Frankl endure the horrors of Auschwitz?  He clung to the love of his wife, his work reproducing his manuscript and the simple beauty of being enraptured by a sunset. He learned that love really did conquer all. He grasped the secret that human poetry and human thought and belief is man’s salvation. He understood that man when left with nothing could still know serenity. He learned that the body could endure unimaginable conditions if it experienced even a small glimpse of hope.

It is a short book, and my brief comments just scratch the surface of its concepts on humanity.  It is an important book for everyone, but it is a must read for those of us that expect to create meaningful environments.