“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” - Albert Camus
Each person’s life is a struggle of sorts. That struggle is to find one’s place in the world: what they want to do, where they are going, what makes them happy, what brings them peace of mind, etc; each day we awaken with the potential to make right the things we feel stress us, wear us down, or displease us. For some, it’s easy to take this step and move on. Others have to fight their way uphill but eventually they get there. The ultimate desire is to reach that space where all the things that beat you down no longer have their effect. To the degree in which this is done depends on each individual, of course. Understanding others (i.e. friends, family, etc) is they key to all this. Without that understanding of others the struggle to reach that point in one’s life can be an arduous journey. Each person goes through their life and explorer of the self in one way or another.
I have always been one who marched to the beat of his own drum since only I know what will make me happy. Only I know, for myself, where I want to go and where I eventually want to be. But America is a culture that has a tendency to have others think they know what’s best for you. Our culture has its “rules” and “standards” which are put forth as a guide in which everyone is expected to follow and God help those who choose not to accept these rules and standards. One of the things my late father taught me throughout my life was to follow your own path and not care about what others think you should be doing. Sometimes people have a tendency to think that what is good for them is often good for everyone else as well. They sometimes slip into a mindset in which they project what makes them happy onto everyone else as if life is a one-size-fits-all proposition.
Each of us decides for themselves what path to take and I am one who feels that one should be able to take that path in relative peace. The voyage of self-discovery and self-liberation is a theme running through many works of art throughout the centuries. It is something that always made certain works of art interesting to me and it’s a theme that I believe all of us explore to some extent. After all, even though we are surrounded by people who care for us and love us, ultimately we each travel this road alone. Sometimes people have your best interests at heart and offer advice, ideas, their helping hand and sometimes people don’t. There are a lot of people who are truly all alone and have absolutely no one. Thankfully, I am not one of those. I have many people in my life who I am truly grateful for and I appreciate them with every ounce of my being although at times we may not see eye to eye on everything. It’s not supposed to be that way. We are all individuals, after all.
In my creative pursuits this is a theme I come back to time and time again. Art is a tool in which I use to help facilitate this journey of self-discovery and self-liberation. One of my all time favorite writers, Henry Miller, is a fine example of this very thing. His work is constantly returning to this theme and for him writing was his method. As one gets older one tends to reflect on their lives and re-evaluate everything he once thought and tries to come to grips with it. One tends to find that certain things that once meant an awful lot suddenly doesn’t mean anything anymore and there are a whole set of new principles that he begins to examine. That’s the way it should be. The old saying is true: One who sees the same thing at forty as he did at twenty has wasted twenty years of his life.
Losing my father at the age I did only hastened this train of thought. I was at a very pivotal point in my life and him not being around at this pivotal point made things very difficult for me at times. Sometimes it’s very important for sons to turn to their fathers in times of need, even if just to talk about things as the weight of life becomes too much to deal with at times. I lost that and pretty much had to turn inward and try to take what he had taught me and what I had learned from him and apply it the best I could. It’s not easy. He was always one that seemed to know just what to say when things got rough. He was a great man, and I miss him dearly.
Being that I am now in my forties I no longer see the world as I once did. Things have changed dramatically. I feel that I am on another path now, seeking something different, something more substantial and meaningful. For a lot of years I have lived in this seemingly cold winter but I feel ready to finally emerge into the warmth of a brilliant summer. All I ask for is to be allowed to do so without being subjected to notions of what others feel I “should” do. It really isn’t much to ask for. What one finds at the end of his journey of self-discovery and self-liberation is known only to the one taking that journey. For some this is an easy journey. For others, it can be like Sisyphus. And to use another cliché: it’s not so much the destination but the journey itself in which we learn many things.