Frankl argues that while some people say life is meaningless because it is transitory, the only transitory part of life is the potential that a person has not yet fulfilled. Once this potential is reached, it becomes a reality preserved in the past. Man’s responsibility is to make transitory potentials into past realities.
Frankl is not concerned by the transitory nature of life like some other existentialists are. Instead, he thinks that the transitory nature of the future is important, because without it, we would not have potential to try to live up to.
Frankl sees logotherapy as an “activistic” rather than pessimistic field. Instead of thinking about the shrinking number of days a person has left in his life, logotherapists tell their patients to think of all of the wonderful things they have already accomplished. Elderly people have no reason to envy the young because elderly people have already actualized their potentialities—they’ve turned their goals into realities.
Frankl thinks of the past as the place in which achievements are stored. Those who are young have not yet stored away achievements, while those who are old have many of them. Once these achievements are converted from possibilities to past actions, they can never be taken away.