In quest for the truth of the soul somewhere in between
Now that it is getting warmer, I tend to spend my weekends exploring the neighbourhood blogs. I would pay them a visit, read stories, hear thoughts and concerns expressed by neighbours, and get to know myself better.
Meeting Mr. Lee
I have been recently introduced to Mr. Lee, a teacher in Greece who is in quest for the truth of the soul through discussions with friends and students. He does his best on the one hand, to meet expectations others hold for him; on the other hand, to learn to see himself through his own eyes. Challenging!
As I was listening to what Mr. Lee had to say, I kept wondering: Do I introduce myself as a young woman living life between two cultures and two languages (of the Balkans) because that is how I see myself or how others see me? In other words, do I see myself through my own eyes or through the eyes of others?
True, I was raised bilingual. My childhood memories are made “here” and there.” True, that holds great significance for getting to know me and to know others. I’m not certain, however, whether it is my own choice or others’ choice, to view that as the dominant element of my existence.
The journey to self-awareness can be challenging. Especially when you are raised between different cultures and different languages, and you learn to see yourself through many various eyes. So when a new friend of mine asked me last year if I am “half and half” of origin, I took some time to respond. I needed time, to look for the answer within me.
This is the inner answer
The answer we are looking for, to any of our questions, at any stage, lies within us
The answer within us
There are moments when it feels as if your inner self is divided into two parts, with one part belonging “here” and the other belonging “there.” It doesn’t matter where exactly. What matters is that each part bears its own history; its own wishes and anguish; its own needs and worry. The “here” part has been shaped in its own way. So has the “there” part. Somewhere in the middle, you aim to build a channel of communication between them.
You wonder whether you as well can acquire a sense of belonging to a group, big or small. After all, this is considered to be a basic human need for all. If your inner self as a whole isn’t embedded within the “here” or the “there” part, is it feasible to develop a full sense of belonging? Be confident that you will enjoy all and not half of the group privileges. Feel accepted even if those around you find it hard to fully understand you. Disagree openly and directly, resolve differences and carry on creating together. I like the word “creation”.
You realise that you may need to try a bit harder in order to get to know yourself well. There are two cultural identities as a whole doing their best to find a common language. In doing so, past experiences would surface calling for your attention. You would like to understand “where” they have been shaped and how they have influenced your path to knowledge. You wouldn’t judge or reject. You aim for balance.
For others to understand you
You know that if you wish for others to understand you, you need to understand them first. You would start by recognising the need behind the questions about your origin, here and there – true, there as well; by reminding yourself that differences rather than similarities attract attention more often. There will be times when differences are being regarded as unfamiliar by some; as something weird or fearsome.
Fear tends to manifest itself in different ways. You may feel sad with something you see. Sadness may grow deeper, and silence may feel like the only choice. Could this be a satisfactory choice? You think about it. Not when silence denotes fear. It may not be easy yet you can achieve more through discussion. You hear and you get heard.
Reaching the realisation
So what does it mean to be between two cultures? My understanding is that you learn to appreciate the parts that surround you, displaying understanding. You learn to actively listen to yourself and to others; to observe and to think a lot. You may feel fear and uncertainty. You may get stuck. You then make a choice and move forward. You don’t choose one part over the other. You choose the way you wish to lead your life. You choose to practise understanding embracing the challenges and joy of life. Somewhere in the middle, it becomes clear that choice means life.
So even if you haven’t learned to see yourself through your own eyes, even if you find it confusing to face the many various eyes of others, the choice to look for – learn – understand the truth is an act of life. The quest for the truth of the soul is an act of life. That is what I choose to believe.
Have a creative week!