It was time to clean out the bookcase in my writing nook I was told, and after many stops and starts, I began moving the books, papers, and artifacts that badly needed dusting and arranging in some semblance of order. Underneath a very untidy stack of old art books were the journals of quotes I collected on sabbatical. Those of you who followed the Pew long ago may remember my collection of quotes while I was “away.” It was fun to go over what was important to write down during a difficult period in my life.
Don’t aim at success — the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. …. it only (ensues) as the unidentified side-effect of one’s dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. — Victor Frankel, Man’s Search For Meaning.
Frankel’s classic is one of the five books I recommend a person take with them if they are going to be incarcerated for any length of time. The above quote is especially appropriate. But why should someone be concerned about success when everything they have obtained has been taken away, especially pride and self-esteem? The answer is that in a period of utter desolation and isolation we have the opportunity to choose a different path of spiritual fulfillment. This applies whether you are about to enter prison or our “prison” is at home or work.
Frankel wrote, “In a position of utter desolation, when man cannot express himself in positive action, when his only achievement may consist in enduring his suffering in the honorable way through love, he can obtain fulfillment.”