Lean In – Owning Our Destiny

“When a man finds that it is his destiny to suffer, he will have to accept his suffering as his task; his single and unique task. He will have to acknowledge the fact that even in suffering he is unique and alone in the universe. No one can relieve him of his suffering or suffer in his place. His unique opportunity lies in the way in which he bears his burden.”

Viktor Frankl, Mans Search for Meaning

Yesterday we got a lot of sad, frustrating and challenging news. The first major wave of tragedies came to bare, our isolation policy was extended, and the potential outbreak to come was reported. Stuff is getting real.

So what do we do now? How are we supposed to process and handle the reality that is taking hold?

Looking through the lens of Pnimius – interiority – means seeing things within their context. By the end of last week it seemed as though surviving, and thriving, through two weeks of fear, isolation and social adjustment was a great victory, and in many ways it was. Yet now, in retrospect, it is easy to see that the last two weeks were only a preparation for the month to come. G-d, the universe, the timeline of human experience, is challenging us to change, to adapt and hopefully to evolve. We seek assurances and direction from the powers that be, our spiritual leaders and our governments, but they can’t take reality away and they can’t face it for us. Only we can take ownership of our destiny, of the responsibility the universe offers us, in our suffering.

Will we heed the call? Will we grow and evolve to something incalculably greater than we were before? This is the acceptance we are faced with. We find ourselves in this place of suffering, what are we gonna do about it, as Viktor Frankl put it how are we going to bear this burden.

No doubt whatever we do will be imperfect, and we will make mistakes along the way. Yet, we can choose to turn the outcome over to the care of a higher force and take responsibility for our effort. We can choose to look at the last two weeks as just the preparation we needed to face the month ahead.

Just for today, we can accept reality for what it is, and choose to Lean In to the responsibility being offered. We can abandon the outcome, the outcome of circumstance and of our experience of it, and show up the best we can, with a faith, curiosity and even excitement for the growth to come.

May our courage and willingness be a merit for those suffering, a shield for those at risk, and do honor to those who we have lost.

About the Author
Menachem Poznanski, LCSW is director of The Living Room, a clubhouse for Jewish young adults in recovery from Alcoholism and Addiction. Menachem is co-author of Stepping out of the Abyss: A Jewish guide to the 12 steps (Mosaica, 2017) and the editor of both Consciously and The Light Revealed, two social media initiatives focused on the messages of Jewish recovery and spirituality. Menachem resides in Cedarhurst, NY with his wife Naomi and their children, Zoe and Tani.