Guides To The Light (Written July 8, 2017)
When we are lost in darkness, when we wander through the night,
We look to the stars to guide us, to be our leading light.
But what have I allowed to guide me? What light to show my way?
Have I so foolishly lost myself by closing my eyes to what they say?
What are my stars that guide me home when all is lost in shadow?
What are the lights I’ll trust to show the truths I must come to know?
Perhaps the time to introspect has led to the time to look out,
To look to others, to listen well, to see what the world is about.
Yes, I suspect it is indeed high time I trust others to light my way,
For where, I ask, would any of us be without a guide towards light of day.
There is light, even in the darkness, if you’ll bother to look. I find myself saying that, giving that advice, not infrequently. It’s become something of a motto of mine. Yet, ironically, I find I am horrible at taking that advice.
For the vast majority of time man has found his way by using the stars. By looking beyond those things immediately surrounding him, beyond what he may touch and influence, to the lights in the heavens for guidance. You can’t do that if you don’t look outside of yourself. Introspection is important- one must first know oneself, before attempting to direct oneself towards a given end. As Socrates said,
The unexamined life is not worth living.
If you do not carefully examine your life then there cannot be intent to that life, overall, and that life is, therefore, pointless. However, part of honestly and humbly examining your life is knowing what your failings are. To continue borrowing from Socrates’ wisdom, I recommend following his example in the manner of his quest for the wisest of all man, and the answer that he found, “I know that I know nothing.” In that answer was his wisdom, his knowledge of his own failings. Introspection is necessary for such wisdom.
That being said, it is not sufficient to stop at acknowledging what you are lacking. At that point you must proceed to improve, and to remedy that in which you lack. Such remedy cannot be found in oneself alone. One must look outside oneself, to observe concrete singulars and come to universal principles.
(I might be straying a bit too much into philosophy here. Hmm, shall I get back on topic?)
My point is, I suppose, that we must look outside ourselves, at times, in order to find the lights that allow us to orient ourselves in the dark. I don’t just mean principles (though I do think properly understanding philosophy is paramount if you do not want to be led astray), but also people and events. We must remain humble and open enough to learn from people we meet and events that transpire. There is no coincidence in this life- I don’t totally mean then in a zen way, either. Any occurrence carries as much import as you give it. Learn from everything that you can, without foolishly distracting yourself through arrogance or cowardice.
(Enjoy my philosophical rant/ ramble?)
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