Last weekend while I was relaxing on the deck after a hot afternoon of being at one with nature on a 9th floor deck, my iPhone burped to indicate a blog comment had arrived. Comments are so wonderful to a blogger, that one even welcomes snide comments about rhubarb wine recipes. Said comment implied that perhaps I put an unreasonable amount of effort into making rhubarb wine. My first reaction was to agree. But then I got to thinking and I managed to convince myself that my efforts were laudable, as I shall explain.
Enter Viktor Frankl, another in my growing circle of neurologists. Some decades ago I read Man’s Search for Meaning, and was struck by a concept that I’ve carried with me ever since, but only when convenient. I may have corrupted or misunderstood his essential ideas but the takeaway I remember was that work (by that I mean accomplishing a particular task) gives meaning to people’s lives. Doing that task, particularly if another person is waiting for the result, is what matters – whether it is ambitious and admirable like saving the poor, or more self serving and unnecessary like turning rhubarb into wine.
I like to set tasks for myself and do them. If I can drink it afterwards, so much the better.
Having thought about admirable people like Viktor Frankl and Mother Teresa, my mind wandered on to the apparently-newly-beatified Jack Layton. Yes, he pulled off a stunning second-place victory in the last Canadian general election, and yes, it is sad that he died unexpectedly of cancer at age 61. In fact, given my philosophising above, I kind of admire him because he stayed pretty busy doing things in his life. But I do not understand the unexpected adulation that we saw in the news, leading up to the state funeral!!! I’m afraid to sound insensitive, but the coverage in Canada was so over-the-top that it makes me cynical.