Like Hecate, the goddess of underdogs, I have a soft spot for writers and thinkers who arose above personal hardships and triumphed in the will. If they have not experienced human highs and lows, how could they write and explain the meaning of life? Take the Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky whose near-death experience on the gallows and subsequent travails shaped how he viewed humanity, the purpose of God, and the dichotomy of good and evil. I compared the life of Dostoevsky with that of Victor E. Frankl, the father of Logotherapy, who survived five death camps during World War 2 because both men’s intellectual fervor saved them from self-destruction in the darkest hours of their lives.
Dostoevsky (hereinafter “D”) was a political prisoner sentenced to death for reading banned books. But the most incredible feat of luck pulled him out of the gallows, and he was sent to a Siberian work camp. He forced himself to channel a danger of hopelessness and resignation in such a squalid environment into the world of imagination. His characters were his alter egos trapped in a cycle of solipsistic containment of morality, religiosity, and social justice. In these attitudinal and creative values as a way of relieving himself from the slough of despond, D finds a kindred spirit in Frankl (hereinafter “F”), whose spirit never succumb to the hopeless situations in death camps where life seemed to be a curse. Instead, f kept himself busy by constantly devising his school of thought, analyzing it, and structuralizing the concepts in his head and on any writable medium he could find discreetly. The result is Logotherapy, the third Viennese school of psychotherapy that encompasses philosophy, religion, neurology, and psychoanalysis, whose nature and method are common to all humans and applicable to all regardless of age, gender, race, and culture.
So much so for the reading of the brief article, but the effect is magnanimous and resonant with a pellucid tenor of a victorious high human spirit with humor as a handmaid to intellect (wit), which would otherwise be grim and dreary subject to temperamental bouts of depression and pessimism. Both men in their prime of youth had their sovereign rights of individualities in tatters and shackles, but their willingness to live and achieve their goals exceeded the compass of the malicious fortune and triumphed in perennial glory. They are, as Ben Jonson in his humor might have concurred, men not of an age but for all time.
“So you have now the earth, the water, and the sky in your room! Awesome!” That was my brother when I told him over the phone about my recent adoption of a parakeet from a Petco. The paroxysm of excitement catapulted me into the awareness of a reality that I did bring a bird—those small but sharp beaks and those wrinkled tarsi feet manifesting the atavistic characteristics of dinosaurs, particularly the T-Rex. The truth that I now have to cohabitate with the least-likely coveted descendent of T-Rex still swivels my head in wonderment as if the ghost of Alice in Wonderland possessed me. So why the bird then?
While there might be the remotest chance of using my parakeet as a divine medium to consult my future, I have recently brought Sera home with great expectation of making a friend with the lonely Toro. Toro is now one year and four months old, and his growing curiosity calls attention for a playmate to share his enthusiasm and vociferous nocturnal stamina. Of course, the kinship of feline presence is the best option to fulfill the requirement. Still, the existential circumstances of present life eliminate it. Hence the lot fell into a blue parakeet I named Sera after the talking bird Serah, a travel companion of Sinbad the Sailor, from my favorite childhood cartoon. As you can guess, Sera is a girl who spends most of her time in front of the mirror and then trills in high soprano like a pretty and prim starlet prima donna.
My endless attempts to tame Sera to sit on my finger and her constant ignorance of my presence are both disheartening and ireful. Toro is a susceptible and timid cat who denied looking at dead fish by turning away his head from the sight. Even though Toro wishes no harm on his new friend Sera, who fastidiously avoids him with all her feathers and beaks, she defends herself from him with all her might. Toro looks at me with his large sad eyes full of liquid heartaches whenever the conflict occurs, and I comfort him in my arms. Sera then flaps her tiny pretty wings, returns to her castle, and ensconces herself on a twiggy perch with a loud and snappy chirping as a sign of victory over the feline Goliath.
I still don’t know if my decision to extra-species friendship is counterproductive amid Sera’s callous attitude toward Toro and me despite our apologies and continuous endeavor to reconcile with her. Perhaps I should not have taken Sera yet from the cage while she might have been still not familiarized with her new home. Still, there’s hope in my Pandora’s Box weaved in a rope of sparkling diamonds that promises a dazzling delight of trust and love filling the loneliness of the little hearts in our room. Who knows, one day Sera suddenly talks both Korean and English and tells me my todays and tomorrows? You never know.