Part of my trip to Austin this weekend involved attending a small-group session on Viktor Frankl and living a life of meaning led by Pam Cordano. I wish you had been there. I feel the way I did when I first learned how to make a snowball. Are you kidding me? This is awesome!
I don’t even know what to tell you about the meaning workshop, and that’s partly why I wish you’d been there. Then I wouldn’t have to work at encapsulating a 3-hour experience into a short-ish blog post. So because I’m at the airport and because I’m tired and because I bought a book I want to read, I’ll just tell you my favorite moment. I do, after all, want to give you something valuable, something that makes the time you spend reading this worth the investment.
Pam was talking about how you feel in your body when you are living a life of meaning, and one of the participants said something along the lines of I feel like that right now, she said. I feel so good. I have tingles.
Pam asked her where in her body she had these tingles. The woman stared at Pam and then spidered her fingers up and down her thighs. In my legs, she said, surprised. The tingles are shooting down my legs. She laughed. The woman looked lit up, delighted, like a kid with a dollar in a penny-candy store.
I know this woman, and she is like a gorgeous bag of stardust. Like most of us, she has her issues that weigh her down sometimes, but when I have seen her drop the ideas that she is not enough or not good enough or whatever enough, she is tingles. Even her hair vibrates when she is deep in the meaning of her life.
Pam said the physical symptoms of meaning inform the parts of us that are disconnected or empty. Did you get that? I’ll say it one more time to make sure you heard: the physical symptoms of meaning inform the parts of us that are disconnected or empty. She said that when we are feeling down or when we can’t find meaning in our lives, we can recall the good feeling and ask it what it would say to the broken or hurt part.
She had the woman think of a time when she felt hollowed out, empty. A time when life did not hold a lot of meaning. I watched the woman slump in the chair as she thought about a difficult relationship, her body caving around the emptiness she clearly felt in her abdomen. Go back to the tingle, Pam said. Remember how you felt a few minutes ago and revisit that relationship in your mind.
At first the woman looked confused, stuck, like, I'm feeling bad and I'm going to stay here, but then Pam said, Feel the tingles shoot out your legs, and the tingle happened. You could watch it happen. The woman smiled, laughed. Oh, she said. I get it.
I thought about how plugged in I felt the day before when I talked about finding the courage to write at the Hear Me Now conference, and how I could tell I was living my meaning was that my body felt lit up. I felt light, like I was made of light. It was a wonderful sensation because I didn’t have to think about my body. I could think instead of what I wanted to do to convince other people of how important their story is and how important it is for them to tell it.
Sitting in the group, I followed Pam’s instructions and thought of a time when I felt down, burdened by life. I imagined a mailbox full of bills, and I felt my heartspace go hollow, my guts clench, my legs go weak. Then I switched over to the feeling of living a life of meaning, having a light body, a body full of light, and I imagined that body in front of the mailbox. The whole mess just made me smile. Mail in a box. How nice. I felt the lightness of my arms, of my head, of my guts. Everything will be okay, I thought. This is just a stack of papers. I’ll work hard. I’ll take care of business. I’m doing great.
With this light feeling in my body everything became…fun. I’m not sure when I was taught that worrying and stressing were smart choices, but I must have been going to the school of crazy.
Well, I’m done with that school. I’m transferring.
Thank you, Pam. Thank you, Viktor.
See you tomorrow.