Are You Free?
Reading Psychiatrist Dr. Frankle’s experience as a Nazi prisoner gave me the tools of accepting and adapting. His work also gave me perspective.
.Dr. Frankle says that after a three night and two day train ride in a car so full of prisoners they all had to stand and take turns squatting on the “scanty straw which was soaked with urine.” Dr. Frankle mentions this experience here for the obvious purpose of emphasizing the freedom we have to choose our Attitudes.
How Free are You?
Accepting things we cannot change is a pathway to peace. When the train pulled into what would be their new camp, prisoners were joking and in all around good spirits as they realized there were no ovens, crematoriums or gas chambers at this new facility.
There was freezing rain when they reached their new camp, but even standing outside all night and late into the next morning until a missing prisoner was found and punished for falling asleep at an inopportune time, couldn’t dampen their spirits. “…we were all very pleased! There were no chimney in this camp, and Auschwitz (their first camp.) was a long way off.”
On another occasion, a group of convicts passed the prisoners’ work site. The obvious relativity of all suffering seemed quite apparent to Dr. Frankl as the prisoners around him looked enviously at the convicts with their comparatively safe and comfortable lives.
Freedom is Relative
This reminds me that when I first left the hospital after my crash, I wore a shoe that had a heavy metal brace attached. The contraption required me to continuously take muscle relaxers to reduce the spasticity in my foot so I could slip it on. I felt pure pleasure in my discomfort as I remembered former hospital roommates that would never again know the simple pleasure that comes from feeling an uncomfortable pair of shoes. Imagine my immense pleasure a few years later when I exchanged this shoe brace for a metal brace that fit into a small variety of regular shoes.
The time of true relief came about 15 years after my crash when they cut my heel chord.
The plastic brace they gave me after my surgery can fit into any shoe. What a joy! I give thanks every time I put it on. Growing up, and being quite active in all the usual things young people are, I would have found wearing even the plastic brace quite unacceptable. I’ve truly adapted.
Focus on what you have not what you don’t have. We are free to choose our Attitudes.
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