Have you read Victor Frankl's truism: "between stimulus and response lies the freedom to choose"? It just hit me this morning - the clear distinction between destiny and choice:
- Stimulus is destiny.
- Response is choice.
I then thought, "what about when we respond to the stimulus in a manner that allows us victory over its adversity, its challenge?"
I realized that victory takes us to another level with larger and more forceful stimuli acting upon and challenging us. Consider the example of business. A small firm grows to a medium-sized one. It succeeds in growing, but it also meets larger challenges. From local challenge, it graduates on to national, and then global challenge.
This is true for personal life too. Childhood is tough, there is so much to learn and there is so little freedom (or so we think!). But every subsequent phase in life is tougher than the last.
What about when we have beaten every challenge? When we are the most gifted, most successful, the top ranking? This poses a strange challenge. Suddenly, we have conquered the external stimuli. Suddenly, there is no stimulus. Nothing to fight for or against.
Why, then, live?
I rested my cup of tea, and focused on this thought: what about the gifted? What about the winners? What about someone like, say, Bill Gates whose book I just leafed through last night? What about when you are on the highest rung? What do you do to live?
...And then the dots connected. Ever heard Iqbal's couplet about Khudi (self-respect, self-actualization)? "Actualize and take thyself to such a summit that God will ask thee before thy destiny is formed, 'What doth thee wish for?'"
[Microsoft tag line: Where do you want to go today?]
You create your own stimulus when you have conquered the standard ones. This is a freedom that comes with responsibility to oneself, to one's gifts. And it is a great test. Though a few get this choice in more flagrant ways (being the world's richest man, etc.), many of us have more choice than we think. Whether we choose to exercise this freedom or not may be the strongest test of our spirit and character.Note: Pulled this unpublished piece from amongst the drafts on December 08, 2007.