Lose Yourself to Know Yourself

“I feel like I’m in a mid-life crisis right now…” My Cousin Simon spoke to me in the truck as I was driving him home to his house after a late lunch at our family’s restaurant. He cleared his voice slightly, and sighed. “I feel so lost right now.”

I glanced over quickly to observe Simon’s expression before reverting my eyes back on the busy road. The traffic was incredibly slow; we traveled less than ten miles in a span of thirty minutes on the highway.

Feeling concerned, I asked, “What’s wrong?” and waited for his response.

“I feel like there’s no purpose to life…Everyone will die one day. I will die too. I’m scared of being a nobody. I want to make an impact in the lives of so many people.” Simon voiced his feelings as he emotionally recalled the past few days. “I don’t know why, but I’m feeling very depressed. There is no growth in what I do. I feel that the path I am on right now only leads to mediocrity. It is the same thing every day. Don’t get me wrong. I love college. I love my friends. It’s fun and all, but if I keep going down this path, I can already predict my future.”

The traffic came to a halt as we stopped in the middle of the highway with an endless stream of cars in front and behind us. My eyes were glued to the back of a vehicle in front of us. The tail lights were shining straight into my pupils, but I was unaware of them. My mind was slowly taking in what my cousin said. Without taking my eyes off, I took a deep breath and replied, “OK then, what are you going to do about it?”

Simon hesitated for a moment as if he was preparing his train of thoughts. Within a few seconds, he spoke with a clear voice. “I intend to travel down an entrepreneurial path. I want to create a business in the fitness clothing industry because of my love for fitness and fashion. I want to create clothes dedicated to themes like elements of fire, water, etc. These themed clothes will have their respective logo, color patterns, design patterns, etc. Also, when people buy clothes, a percentage of the proceeds will go toward helping a good cause. For example, people buying water themed clothes will have a part of their proceeds donated toward helping the marine life, and cleaning the ocean.”

I laughed with a sense of astonishment when I heard Simon’s goals. He had clearly thought things through. I continued listening to Simon and we exchanged some ideas about his dream. However, his dilemma still remained in the back of my mind.

Sometimes I envy those who are religious. When you are religious, you are adamant in your beliefs. When you have something to believe in, you have something to cling to. In the storm of life, there is the lifesaving raft of belief that keeps you afloat from the currents of life.

Those of us who don’t know what to believe in seek purpose. This dilemma that my cousin Simon went through is no different than what most people will go through. I’ve gone through a mid-life crisis too. No one is alone in their suffering. Sometimes, you have to lose yourself, in order to find yourself.

The Purpose of Being Lost

When I went through my mid-life crisis, it lasted for many months. In fact, it is reoccurring. I believed it happened multiple times, and who knows if it will happen again. Each time it happens, I lose all motivation and purpose. My constant companions were aimlessness and laziness.

During certain nights when I went to sleep, my entire being undergoes sleep paralysis. Can you imagine losing all your senses while your mind is still awake? Or the inability to do anything while your mind falls into an illusionary endless, black void? Can you imagine the terror that strikes me every one of those nights?

How about those nights when I wake up terrified with the existential realization that this life is temporary? I would cease to exist. Everything I do is meaningless. Everything I accomplish in life means nothing. All my actions here and out doesn’t mean anything. Even the legacies that I create are only here temporary.

In the backdrop of eternity, nothing matters of what I do, of what you do, of what anybody does. So what is the point of anything? What is the point of existence? Can you imagine living with these thoughts overflowing your mind for extended periods of time? Especially when you found no answers?

Needless to say depression was present in my mind. When I became so disconnected with life, the only thing I saw was separation. There was no interconnectedness of life. There is only my life and my own suffering. Nothing else mattered in my eyes.

You know what finally made me come out of my depression? Nothing, I simply continued existing. With the passage of time, I learned something very fundamental: the very nature of our existence is temporary. That means everything is temporary, even depression. If all things are temporary, they come and go.

Now what is the purpose of being lost? Truthfully there is no purpose except what you perceive and respond. And it is exactly this that makes life wonderful. You can say the purpose of being lost is life screwing around with you. But if you are smart, you can determine the meaning. You can nitpick and choose for yourself. Our interpretations are infinite.

Because we have the ability to choose and to respond, here is what I chose. I believe that the purpose of being lost is to separate the meaningless from the meaningful. I believe that being lost is a great state to be in because it gets rid of all the fluff. It is the beginning when people actually start living. It is the catalyst required for self transformation.

The Only Way Out Is In

I am going to make a bold statement: you don’t know anything. The only thing you do know is yourself.

You look at me weirdly and say, “Luigi that is not true. I read your blog, therefore I know you.”

Well I would tell you that you don’t know a damn thing about me. Because what you know of me is what you interpreted through what you read. You don’t know me, what you know as me are only your interpretations.

Likewise, when you read these words, do you really think you are reading these from a screen? No, you are reading these exact words within yourself. These words are reflected off the screen as light particles. These light particles pass through the lens of your eyes. It is further deciphered by the optic nerves which send these impulses to the brain. You see these words as a projection within you.

Everything that which happens to you happens within you. When you feel any emotions, they are all felt within you through a chemical reaction of your body. When you think with your mind, you are thinking within yourself.

So as a result, you don’t know anything but yourself. What you believe to be your life is nothing more than an illusion. Your work, family, relationships, possessions, and others do not make up who you are. They are the accessories of your life, the interactions and things that you transact with in your external reality. What you really are, you have to look deep within.

What does it mean to look within? The answer is simple, pay attention to the very life process that you are. Do you know how much blood is flowing in your body right this very instant? Can you feel your heartbeat? How about the organs in your body at work? You probably can’t feel them much at all despite so much activity going on within you at all times.

What you do notice are the sensations that the five senses provide. For example, when a single ant crawls on your skin, you will notice this sensation right away. The five senses interpret the sensations from your external realities. They are used as a bridge to connect the outside with the inside.

The problem is that we believe that all our experiences are outside of us. That is not right. If you do this, you fragment reality into many pieces. You identify with events outside of you and enlarge their importance. Even when you react to an outside event, you know that they only exist as memories.

If you are reacting to past memories, you know that you are suffering for things that don’t exist. They don’t exist anywhere in reality. They only exist as a psychological experience of your mind.

If you really understood that everything is experienced within you, you know that peace and happiness are not about servicing the external realities of your life. It is about accessing the magical inner nature of your being.

The only reason you are so depressed and stressed is that you haven’t paid enough attention to yourself. You believe that life is not happening the way that you want it to. But do you even know what life is? Are you sure you are not being duped by a misguided illusion?

In our search for joy and happiness, we have nearly flipped the earth. The pollution and the destruction to every species on this planet are prominent. If we keep searching for well-being outside of us, there would no longer be a habitable earth in the near future.

You must know this. If you want to achieve well-being, the only one that needs to be fixed is you. Nothing in the world needs to change. If you are sick, you are the one who needs medication. If you are tired, you are the one who needs rest. Changing the world doesn’t do anything to help you get better.

Don’t try to live your life through what you have gathered. You will only repeat the cyclical, destructive nature of human history. Remember our needs are finite, but our desires are infinite. If we base our dreams on our desires, nothing will ever satisfy you for long because you are constantly trying to find yourself outside of yourself. You can accumulate all of this planet’s resources and plunder the entire earth. At the end, you will still feel empty because you have completely missed out on life.

Instead, look within. This is the only way out.