I used to hear about people doing all sorts of things in order to find themselves. People attending religious camps, climbing mountains, trekking across deserts, and sitting alone in the dark staring at the wall. One guy even spent a whole winter living in a tiny wooden shack surrounded by hungry polar bears. I mean, seriously? Find yourself? Really? Here’s a hint. Put up one hand in front of your face. You’ll find it’s attached to an arm (unless you’ve had a nasty accident or something, in which case you may need to apply the principle to a different limb). Follow that up to the shoulder and you’ll find that you’re actually right there! You’re attached! You’re not going anywhere. Hey you’ve found yourself, have a beer and get on with your day, right?
I mean, what do you really find if you sit on a mountain top by yourself for three months? I guess you find out that it can get damn cold at night; that toilet paper is actually pretty cool stuff; that body odour really isn’t that big of a deal; that it doesn’t really matter that you felt like an idiot when the girl you fancied mocked you in front of your friends. But you knew that already, right? I mean, toilet paper? How cool is that?
I’ve been up the mountain; I’ve walked the desert and I’ve spent my nights watching the ocean. Somehow I knew I was lost, but I didn’t find myself in any of those places. I tried other places too. Turns out I’m not at the bottom of a bottle of vodka, nor am I upside-down in a BMW in a ditch in Germany (at least, not right now, anyway).
Everywhere I went I just found my history was already there, just waiting for me. I realized that it’s not about finding yourself at all. It’s about cutting loose all the things that are not you. All that shit that builds up in your mind that just isn’t that important but makes each day harder. I used to be real bad for that. My history lived behind my eyes. Everything I saw was colored by the glow of the bridges I’d burned and disfigured by the shadows cast by the dead. But one day I realized: That history isn’t me. It’s shit that happened, sure. I was there. But it isn’t me.
Maybe some people feel they need to be alone in the mountains to cut thru all their history and their current situation to find what’s left. I don’t think you need the mountain. I think you can find yourself, right now, right here. You don’t need that romantic, meditation imagery. You don’t need those scented candles and voodoo worry dolls. You don’t need all the commercialized pine forest relaxation aids and panpipe moods. You don’t even need to finish reading this post. You just make a choice to cut loose.
So I put my hand in front of my face. I followed my arm up to the shoulder. You know what? I’m right here. I’ve been here all along. In the end, I guess, I finally found myself, but there was a slight problem. Turns out that I didn’t like me very much. Guess you can’t win ’em all, huh?