Weather permitting, I am spending my weekends exploring the neighbourhood blogs. During my visits, I read interesting stories, hear thoughts and concerns my neighbours have, explore the truth of the soul.
Meeting Mr. Lee
I have been recently introduced to Mr. Lee, a teacher in Greece who is exploring the truth of the soul through discussions with friends and students. He does his best to meet expectations others hold for him, and to learn to see himself through his own eyes. That sounds challenging.
As I was listening to what Mr. Lee had to say, I kept wondering how I introduce myself. Am I a young woman living life between two cultures and two languages because that is how I see myself or how others see me? That is, do I see myself through my own eyes or through the truth of the soul of others?
Sharing concerns about the truth of the soul
True, I was raised bilingual. My childhood memories are made “here” and “there.” True, that has influenced the way I see myself and others. I’m not certain, however, whether it is my own choice or others’ choice, to embrace bilingualism as the essence of my truth.
The journey to self-awareness can be challenging, especially when raised between different cultures and different languages. 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 truth of the soul.
The answer we are looking for, to any of our questions, at any stage, lies within us
The answer lying within us
There are moments when the truth of the soul feels divided into two parts: one part belongs “here” and one part belongs “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 do your best to build a channel of communication between them.
You wonder whether you as well can enjoy a sense of belonging to a group, big or small. After all, this is considered to be a basic human need for all. If the truth of the soul as a whole isn’t embedded within the “here” or the “there” part, can you 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 sound of creating.
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’d 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.
Helping others to understand you
You know that if you want others to understand you, you need to understand them first. You’d 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 get projected 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 take time to 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 a certain realisation about the truth of the soul
So what does it mean to be between two cultures? Where does the truth of the soul lie? I’d say in appreciating and getting to understand the parts that surround you. You learn to actively listen to yourself and others; to observe and 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 and embrace 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. Looking for the truth of the soul is an act of life. That is what I choose to believe.
Have a creative week!
About the painting
Luncheon of the Boating Party (1880-1881) is one of the most famous paintings by French impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir. It was created when Renoir was looking more to classical shapes and less to abstract forms for sources of inspiration. It depicts friends of the painter’s who went to a luncheon at a restaurant on the Seine island artists used to frequent. (Source: Culture Trip)