When we think about great discoveries, we tend to think in terms of inventors or explorers. We think about discovery of a new cure for disease, or a previously unknown island in the Pacific Ocean.
These are all great discoveries, but there is something else that each of us can discover, a thing of great beauty and of immeasurable value – ourselves.
But – don’t I know myself? What does it mean to discover myself?
In day-to-day life it is all too easy to just go with the next emergency, the next thing on our “to-do” list, even the next stimulus. Sometimes we do pause and consider, but then it’s often in the nature of finding out what the next thing to do is – what is our next course of action.
To really discover ourselves, is to go on a journey just as long as, say, exploring the Amazon, and even more demanding.
It starts when we realize that we are not just the sum of the things that we own, or of our accomplishments, or the job we do. All of these are important to differing extents. The things we choose to spend our resources on are a reflection of our priorities, and we can maybe get clues about ourselves by looking at these. Our accomplishments show the things that have inspired us in the past, and may indicate what will do so in the future. Our job – whether it be a high-powered career, or a simple way of making money, are places where we spend a lot of time, and will influence us and be influenced by us. What we do for a living can also say a lot about the type of things we like to do – are we more comfortable inside or out, in a structured environment, or somewhere where there are few rules.
But all of these things, although important, can at best only define a part of us; can only give a glimpse of the whole us. Our good friends or partners may be able to get closer to what is our essence, but even they will only know us partly. What is more intriguing, often we do not fully understand ourselves either. We are on a journey of discovery – or can be – an epic adventure to find out who WE are.
Of course, it need not be that way. It is possible to go through life being buffeted and thrown about by the currents of life, clinging on to our possessions or other material things to help us define ourselves. It is possible not to explore. This can seem “safe” and an easy way through the river of life.
But it is to ignore the wonder and the excitement of making real discoveries, of seeing new landscapes open up in front of us. Whether we choose to think of it as such or not, life is a journey and none of us know ahead of time what will be around the next corner.
All we can do is welcome the unknown – welcome the discovery.