If you really want to be happy in life, you have got to stop looking outwards all the time. You have got to stop thinking that the answer to the mystery of the life in you could come from someone else. Stop measuring yourself with the truth, facts or successes of others. It is true that we are part of a community, of a family, of a race and finally of humanity. And that we must interact with others is inevitable. We depend on others for a good number of things, for food, for movement, for education and for services that may go down to the minutest detail, to the point where the sheer grin of others could be as important as lodging a homeless mendicant. Wherever we may be, we know that what we do, that the actions we pose bear their impact on the whole society, they do not only affect us, they affect the people with whom we come into contact.
The way we are related to the society may affect our growth, our attitudes and our performance greatly. We know that people around us, our friends, our family, and our loved ones expect a particular performance from us. We want to be the best and to do our best. But for whom do we really want to be the best? Our gaze may be carried outward enough that we fail to celebrate who we are. Few people really stop to look at themselves; few really stop to contemplate the wonder of their being, to listen to the music that surges from the depths of their being. They forget that only they could understand that music.
It is not a problem to satisfy the expectations of others. There are people who have sacrificed their dreams just to make someone happy. That may be laudable. But I always want to believe that we can only be the best and give the best of us if we go deeper and deeper into ourselves, to understand who we are. We can only find others if we have sought and found ourselves first. If we do not know what our deepest needs are, we will surely get lost with the people we are trying to satisfy or to seek. This is no child’s talk. Experience taught me this. Sometimes we prefer to escape from ourselves, maybe because solitude is difficult, or it commands us to walk the difficult path to the discovery of who we really are. We cannot definitely pretend to love whosoever if we do not learn to love ourselves first. That is the first commandment, and it is the commandment upon which every other commandment finds its roots: You shall love and celebrate yourself. Then you shall love your neighbor as yourself. The love of neighbor is measured with the love of self. There is no genuine love of neighbor if the love of self (and this should not be confused with the giddy feeling of self-love which is centered and egoistic) has not been cultivated, that is, if the self has not discovered that it is a gift, precious and priceless that could be offered.
There is a dialogue between one of my loved poets, Rainer Maria Rilke, and a young man, Kappus, in whose heart throbs the passion for writing. After writing for a while, the young man has set about seeking advice from many a great writer; he had sent his poems to publishers and magazines. Somehow, he was getting frustrated by not receiving a positive response from them. Rilke’s advice to him was just too simple: to stop looking outside, to stop asking people questions, but to re-enter into his personal solitude, into that region of his soul where he could identify with his personal legend, where he could hear his own cry and that call which demands from him an imperative answer, a call which, not to answer were to live like a dry plant, sapless and fruitless.
In the correspondence between Rilke and Kappus, the former admonishes and guides the latter through the path of his solitude to the great wealth of his humanity: the song of poetry that celebrates fullness of life. Among other things, this is what he says somewhere:
"And you should not let yourself be confused in your solitude by the fact that there is something in you that wants to move out of it. This very wish, if you use calmly and prudently and like a tool, will help you spread out your solitude over a great distance. Most people have (with the help of conventions) turned their solutions toward what is easy and toward the easiest side of the easy; but it is clear that we must trust in what is difficult (…) it is good to be solitary, for solitude is difficult; that something is difficult must be one more reason for us to do it."
Could there have been a better way to say this