The Denial of Death

“Come to terms with death. Thereafter, anything is possible.”

~ Albert Camus


In A Man’s Search for Meaning, one of the main themes proposed by Viktor Frankl in his theory of logotherapy was the idea that one’s search meaning in life is the primary motivational force in life. It is important to acknowledge that the temporal limitation of life is an integral component to such a force: the meaning to human life is predicated on an inevitable death. It is really this inevitable, looming death that truly motivates us, that provides the impetus for all human endeavour. Our consciousness of death, despite our best attempts to ignore it, is what propels us to create and act in the world; it alone gives meaning to every moment through the mere fact that it could be your last. We no longer are forced to confront death anymore: the death of our fellow humans largely happen in hospitals; the food we eat is processed in farms and factories far away from our own homes. This dissociation from the process of death leads one to grow up without ever needing to truly contemplate the limitations of our existence. This possibly adds to the shock and grief felt when we inevitably lose those close to us.

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The Art of Slowing Down

“Life is what happens to you when you are busy making other plans.”
~ John Lennon


It seems to me that our modern culture values quantity over quality. We are over-concerned with how much we can get done or obtain in the shortest space of time; there is a latent joy in slowing down, being present and appreciating each passing moment.

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Book Review: A Man’s Search for Meaning

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

~ Viktor E. Frankl, A Man’s Search for Meaning


I recently joined a book club, and the book for my first session was A Man’s Search for Meaning, a book I had purchased many months ago and never got around to. It is one that I knew I would enjoy given its psychological and existential themes, and it did not disappoint. I learned much from this short yet powerful book, and its relevance is everlasting.

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The Contagion of the Crowd

“A group is extraordinarily credulous and open to influence, it has no critical faculty.”

~ Sigmund Freud

One must be conscious of the contagious effect of the crowd: it influences our decision-making processes, our beliefs, and our daily lives in ways that go criminally unnoticed in modern day society. One must also acknowledge that while the individual experience is foremost and invaluable, one exists in a space and time that must be taken into account. Humans are essentially social beings: total retreat and abstinence from the crowd is not only impossible but detrimental. A balance must be struck, one that facilitates individual growth whilst reaping the benefits of community membership and the pleasures of conversation. From time to time, it is useful to retreat into solitude, using such a space to re-calibrate yourself and reflect on your current state of being. Eventually, however, one must inevitably return to the world, and take one’s place within it.

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The Horse and the Rider

“Whenever I climb I am followed by a dog called ‘ego’.”

~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The unrestrained ego is the biggest obstacle to achievement and peace of mind, the two things people most want in life. Not only is the unrestrained ego bigger than most obstacles one encounters in life, the unrestrained ego often creates obstacles that would not exist if one had control over it.

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The Ballot or the Bullet

“Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t really matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life — longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. So I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. My eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”

~ Martin Luther King Jr.

Certain moments in history are so profoundly prophetic in nature that one struggles to refute the intervention of the divine. Such moments — like MLK Jr’s last speech, given only one day before his assassination — are almost undeniable evidence that God does his work through certain individuals, sent by Him to teach us and correct the course of humanity. Such individuals are heroes of faith, putting aside selfish desires and conquering the natural human tendencies toward fear and satisfaction of base urges. These figures dominate religious literature: see Moses and Jesus Christ for example.

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Libertas

“I am bound to the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not retract anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. I cannot do otherwise. Here I stand. God help me. Amen.”

~ Martin Luther

These were the infamous words uttered by Martin Luther at the Diet of Worms, at which he defied the church, which at the time believed itself to be on par with God Himself.

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On Musical Literacy

“Art and life are not two separate things.”

~ Felix Mendelssohn

In hindsight, one of my biggest regrets is not having taken my piano lessons more seriously as a child. Music plays an integral role in the development of the human identity, and the musicians of the past only become more relevant and phenomenal with time. A great musician, like a great painter or novelist, transcends technical proficiency. He brings to his work his upbringing, his faults and his strengths, enabling him to produce a unique work of art through which to tell his story. And just like a good painting or a good book, a good musical composition can have a unique effect on its listener.

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Taking the Plunge

“They lead, each Brother plummeting from the tower and landing safely below in a bale of hay. They are like eagles. Truly free. I do not hesitate. The fall feels like a flight. Exhilarating!”

~ Perotto Calderon

Stepping back from social media is no easy endeavour — to maintain social dexterity, particularly in youth (I reckon it is not as important in later years), it requires a recalibration of one’s social behaviour.  One must acknowledge that liberation from the gravity of social media comes at the cost of a heightened responsibility to reach out to those who matter most. The beauty is that it is your choice who matters.

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