When You Can't Find Yourself, You Must Create Yourself

by Manessa Riser

I went to a Buddhist Zen Center and I bought a one way ticket; it cost my life.  Quite expensive, yet I had to have it. I knew I needed it, but I didn’t fully understand how I would use it. I didn’t even know if it would get me where I wanted to go, but I took a chance. A chance that completely changed my perspective on life. See, I’ve been ‘waking up’ for some time now. Almost twenty six years of striving for a destination, searching for a place to stop, only to realize that I am actually on a journey that will take a lifetime — my lifetime. A journey of awareness. A journey of consciousness. A journey of peace. A journey of spirituality. All extremely and equally overwhelming, but in the best way possible.

The last few years of my life have been analogous to floating on a large body of water, drifting onto various shores, desperately looking for me, hoping to find an oar of guidance to get me to… me. My yearlong searches yielded no results. I was wandering in vain, too busy trying to find something, not understanding that I wouldn’t find it until I first CREATED it. I had to create myself. It was too scary of a responsibility, so my fear led to a silent standstill.

Silence and meditation surprisingly put me back in motion. Growing up I feared silence. I feared it because it spawned an uncomfortable vulnerability that I never wanted to confront, but that ticket I purchased forced the dreaded confrontation. Silence and meditation; I embraced it now. It changed something in me. I knew my next step, so I altered my search a bit. If I were to create myself, I needed supplies; I had to find my canvas of knowledge, my paints of truth and my brushes of opportunities.

The search was tough and rejecting the societal stencil proved to be the most challenging. Sifting through society’s distortion of truth became a daily task for me (still is) — most times, I would even call it one of my ultimate struggles. Bombarded. Stuck. Moving two steps forward, only to seemingly be forced four steps backwards by the daily dose of bullshit. The bullshit force-fed to us through the media, our jobs and even our education. The very myriad of social contructs that aim to perpetuate what we are and who we should be in the scheme of society.

That perpetuation confuses us and we get lost. We are the artists of our individual masterpieces, but we often forget. My people, we cannot afford to forget. Our  true artistry of self requires enlightenment, the combination of truth and knowledge. You see, true knowledge, like the real stuff that’s actually true,  must be sought after on a consistent basis. Seek with caution.  It’s tempting to search in the wrong places,  but it’s imperative that you resist. It comes down to trading in your outward approach to truth and adopting an inner one. Our truths are hidden inside — inside of places we are afraid to explore. Inside of books we won’t read. Inside of histories we don’t care to learn. Inside of opportunities we don't take advantage of.

Most importantly, inside of ourselves. It is all about our inner being; it’s about our minds. They’re gems. They’re like diamonds, with many facets of beauty, just waiting to catch a little light, so the world sees its sparkle. We must learn to control, enrich, enlighten and protect our minds and our lives will follow suit… at least that’s what I have concluded. I have learned the value of my one-way ticket. It turned my entire life around and there is no going back. Life travel, my journey… worth every moment of living that I am paying for it. Movement. Progression. Change.

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