Finding (Re)Enchantment

Oprah Winfrey once remarked that the greatest challenge we face is to endure the monotony of everyday life. I saw that episode where she said the aforementioned statement and it shook me so bad that as a student, I began to be conscious of my need for enchantment in everything that I do.

To be a student of this university requires one to take part in the continuous construction and deconstruction of knowledge. This would include our engagement to all the dirty work involved to come up with satisfactory exams, discursive research proposals and ground-breaking research works. There are some who get absorbed in the stress, pressure and emotional fatigue that come with the imperative of going to a university that proudly promotes itself as a bastion of liberal philosophy. Bored and unhappy, they forget to cultivate genuine friendships or be themselves and do whatever things that make them happy.

In a highly competitive society like ours, a good education or a well-paying job is the ticket for acceptance and respect. A strong desire for prestige and a well-deserved position in the social spectrum becomes the end to which every conceivable mean will be put into practice. Further, good academic standing becomes the measure of individual worth. It sheds so much light in explaining why we are in the university, burning ourselves out to death. The fierce competition evident in the University for highly prized unos would even force ourselves to go to the library every Saturday in search for relevant journal articles for a term paper.

Too much involvement in the complexity of academic work is a cause for disenchantment and burn-out. It robs one of the necessary motivations to continuously strive for self-growth. Individual spontaneity is sacrificed. It puts one’s faculty for meaning-making at rest. And yet, capping the semester with good grades is not tantamount to ultimate happiness.

Drawing his experiences from the Nazi camps, the great Viktor Frankl learned that an individual’s faculty for meaning-making is his most important tool to survive tragedies and surprises brought by everyday contingencies. Once an individual has lost his faith and his capacity to interpret events as capable of realizing his potentials, it immediately proceeds to death. Not the death we know when the body in its entirety is no longer capable of performing its duties, but the kind in which one is absorbed to be merely part of the mass whose existence is defined in terms of its non-existence.

The lessons learned by Frankl as he is about to give up from the pressure of survival in the face of human horror may be something worth reflecting. In times when school work seem to take hold of our humanity, it is not wrong to attempt to break free from the probable blandness and toxicity of academic life. The emergence of odd behaviour or activities that appear to be impractical and rubbish are actually attempts to find satisfaction and sense. It is not surprising to be called mad or insane at times but perhaps for some, it is the only option left to bring themselves back to sanity. It is the last hope for those who have lost their faith for a better tomorrow. Perhaps it is their last hope to put meaning in everything. It is their last bid in their desire to survive. ▪