Sometimes you just need space to step back. I found it in a book about a Holocaust survivor and a business trip to Ireland.
In his book, Man's Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl explores the horrors he endured surviving the Holocaust to find that life is simply about the meaning we give it. Straight forward stuff, you would think, however, Frankl says suffering too is no exception because it requires meaning just the same. That's the jagged little pill that's hard to swallow for some.
Suffering can be the cause for depression or empowerment, and either way it is inevitable. It's your life and you decide how to roll with the punches, jabs and knockouts. There is no suffering too small to give meaning.
And that's how Ireland has felt for me. There is a return date to my trip and it's hard to decide how to take it already, halfway through. Is it upsetting to know when it's over I won't see my new friends again for who knows how long? Or is it still a great opportunity to get to know them as much as I can before heading home?
I've decided to see it as a chance to soak life up. It's just that easy. We drank on an old Irish boat and hung out after practicing our international accents. I saw Ireland destroy Italy in a rugby match and spent the next day consoling my new Italian friend over the loss, as she showed me how to take the train and brave the winds of the coastal countryside. Comedian Des Bishop ripped on me for being an American with a bad Irish accent, and I spent another night with friends in a gay bar, doing origami between missing two sold-out screenings to Wes Anderson's new movie, The Grand Budapest Hotel.
The irony is there is little wildly different between Ireland and New York. Sure, there are plenty of differences between the accents, the food, walking speed, noise pollution and political strife, but, in the end, there is only one decision of how you digest it. Suffering and sacrifice in New York felt, for me, like a rat race to juggle everything better than everyone else. There is so much at your fingertips you're not sure where to start or where to stay.
It's the breath of fresh air of a new environment that gave me the ability to see the drive for some kind of perfection was only making me more unstable. Frankl said it better than most: "I consider it a dangerous misconception of mental hygiene to assume that what man needs in the first place is equilibrium".
Instead it's about finding what's worth suffering for. Yes, I'm drinking more and exercising less. Yes, I'm spending way more money than normal. Yes, I'm not sleeping enough. And, yes, it is all worth it because it means I can spend time with a gang of new friends and find some new perspective.
After all, you don't question life, life questions you. What will you make of it?