He who knows others is learned;
He who knows himself is wise.
- Lao-tzu, “Tao te Ching”
Henry David Thoreau said, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” Finding yourself is a difficult thing to do. To live deliberately and on purpose is the key to life. It is hard because you think you have the answers. When you are young, you shoot off in a direction with little care for where you end up because you feel invincible and immortal. At some point, you start asking, “Is this all there is?” Henry David Thoreau said, “Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.” That is when you have to start reaching inside and finding out who you are. Most people do not want to look inside. It is easier to blame someone else for where you end up. But the truth of the matter is that you are responsible for your life. There is no one else who can accept responsibility for you…it is all up to you! Joe Cordare said, “To the question of your life you are the answer, and to the problems of your life you are the solution.” Mark Twain once said, “I can teach anybody how to get what they want out of life. The problem is that I can't find anybody who can tell me what they want.” That does seem to be the common problem. People have a hard time defining what they want out of life so they cannot articulate it. If you cannot say it, then you will have a difficult time getting there. You must be able to define what it is you want. So is the case for finding who you are. You have to want to find yourself and you have to honestly take a look at what you want and who you are. Your world is a reflection of who you are being. If you don’t like your world, change you. Thomas Szasz said, “People often say that this or that person has not yet found himself. But the self is not something one finds, it is something one creates.” You do create who you are. Your thoughts, beliefs and actions will form the habits that move you towards your destiny. If you decide that you do not like something, take a look at yourself and see what you are doing that is attracting it. You have to be honest with yourself….always. That is the only way that you will have peace of mind. Look inside your heart for the answers. Rainer Maria Rilke said, “Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given to you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything.” Everything that you want to know is already inside of you. K.T. Jong said, “It is only when we silent the blaring sounds of our daily existence that we can finally hear the whispers of truth that life reveals to us, as it stands knocking on the doorsteps of our hearts.” It is a simple process, but it is difficult to block out the noise and really listen to the answers inside of you. Thomas Mann said, “No one remains quite what he was when he recognizes himself.”
Matthew Arnold said, “Resolve to be thyself; and know that he who finds himself, loses his misery.” You have to be who you are. Don’t spend a lifetime hiding behind a mask and building a false world. Eventually, the real you will come out. It has to. You have to know what you want! Amiel said, “Man never knows what he wants; he aspires to penetrate mysteries and as soon as he has, he wants to reestablish them. Ignorance irritates him and knowledge cloys.” It is that vicious circle of wanting to know it all and then wishing you didn’t. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. But that really is not our nature, is it? We are a curious species and we want to know what everything is and how it works. You have to find what interests you. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said, “No single event can awaken within us a stranger totally unknown to us. To live is to be slowly born.” You will spend a lot of time gathering data so that you can begin using that data to place meaning and associate things to name. As you build this library, your thoughts will change….especially over time. Gelett Burgess said, “If in the last few years you haven't discarded a major opinion or acquired a new one, check your pulse. You may be dead.” Your tastes will change, your opinions will change. I tend to agree with what Muhammad Ali said, “The man who views the world at fifty the same as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.” As I have gotten older, my entire point of view has changed. What I worried about when I was young is not even on my radar screen any longer. Michel de Montaigne said, “I know well what I am fleeing from but not what I am in search of.” That theme runs constant through most people’s life. What am I striving for? What is my purpose? You must find out who you are…you must look inside and find you! G.K. Chesterton said, “One may understand the cosmos, but never the ego; the self is more distant than any star.” Deep inside of you lie the answers that you seek. Stop and listen to what it is saying. You are the beneficiary of valuable information designed precisely for you. Listen and learn. Seek and ye shall find!