A couple of days back, I sat in a cemetery and thought about life. Ever since I lost my dad, I’ve taken to nights out in the country, alone. I’d been doing this since around last April, but it became a very frequent thing all throughout the summer. Every other night I would drive out into the country alone and star gaze. I would sit there until sunrise and watch the massive array of colors with awe. Recently, I went out to the country again, but I sat near a cemetery instead of the lake I usually sit by and looked up at the stars once again. This time it was different though because this time I did more than just admire them. I questioned.

I noticed one of the corner stars of the Little Dipper flickering and the first thing that came to mind was the birth of a new star. It’s strange how in Greek mythology, the Phoenix is reborn from its ashes just as a star is reborn from its remnants. Sometimes I wonder if everything we know now through science was already known back then through mythology. Sure, they seem like stories to us, but I can’t help but feel as if there is some reality hidden behind each one of those stories, to some extent. Isn’t it possible that our knowledge, that we base entirely on facts and evidence most of the time, might actually be able to extend further than what we expect it to reach. Mind transcends matter, space, and time.

Eventually, I did go back to the lake and carefully watched the ripples in the water. Just as fast as they start, they grow too… bigger and bigger, until eventually, the water would be still again until another ripple formed. In a sense, I feel like we can compare humans to those ripples. A foolish, ignorant man acts without thinking and sometimes chooses to remain ignorant regardless of how many mistakes he’s actually making. It’s not that he doesn’t realize he’s doing something, it’s the fact that he refuses to acknowledge the Truth, so he continues to make mistakes that get larger and larger until eventually, there’s nothing left to lose and you’re back to still water. A ripple needs someone or something to start it.

A chance, maybe. Coming to the topic of chances, I’ve always seen them in a different light. I call it the “what now?” stage. Chances or opportunities, for me, are like ice cream. This world is such a huge place and we don’t have enough time to take up every single chance that’s thrown at us and somehow, that makes some people depressed. Almost as if they think that every chance is meant to be accepted, but it’s not possible. Chances are like ice cream flavors. Just as every person can’t like every single flavor, it’s not necessary that every person will like every chance that life throws at them, but just because you don’t like that “flavor” doesn’t mean there won’t be any other “flavors.” No matter what, there is always going to be a “flavor of the month.” It’s your choice whether you choose to take it or not. If you don’t take one, it doesn’t mean there won’t be any more ever again because that’s just how life works. It will keep throwing something at you until you realize what your “flavor” is and you accept it.

Once we’re out of the “what now” stage, we fall into the “what if” stage. Our life consists of a series of questions; so many baseless questions and worries that I sometimes wonder why people don’t just drop the paranoia and question their sanity. In this world everyone wants success and all they see is success. If you have success, you’ll be happy, otherwise you’ll be miserable. No one wants to look beyond that, or rather behind it. How many people actually go back and notice someone for the amount of mistakes they made to reach that height of success? Success is not possible without mistakes because we’d get so tired of doing the same thing over and over again if there were no such thing as mistakes. We’d never be able to see past what we were doing all our lives. God has created us in such a way that our curiosity is always craving for more; it never stops asking questions and it never stops pondering over answers.

We get the answer to one question and then we turn that very answer into a whole new question hoping for a better answer. Our minds are never fully satisfied with what is presented. Just imagine, when a child stands on his own two feet for the very first time, and then falls, why does he try to stand up again? Not because he enjoys falling, but because he wants to know and experience what comes after crawling. Once he learns to stand and maintain his balance, even then he’s not satisfied. Now, he wants to know… “what next?” What comes after standing? That’s when he learns how to walk and eventually run.

We all make so many mistakes in life, but when you put all of those mistakes together, you’ll find paths of success winding clearly through. Everyone makes mistakes, but how many know how to accept and face them? The problem here is we’re afraid. We fear what others will say, what the world will say. That’s the problem and also the solution. We’re afraid of a world full of judgmental people who have no right to judge anyone but themselves. Some of them make more mistakes than we do, but they only see the faults of others. My dad always used to teach me that one should never point fingers at another because you’re pointing one finger at someone else but look down and see that your other three are pointing right back at you as a reminder that no one gave you the right to judge when you probably have more faults than the other person.

I sat amongst those people that once roamed in their human form but are now nothing but another composition of the earth. Though, I wonder, how many of those people actually knew how to live? Don’t get me wrong, I know the difference between living and existing and understand fully that some people do, indeed, merely exist. My question, though, is how many knew how to live. How many realized the difference between success and failure? How many comprehended the concept of recurring chances? How many found their self?

I cannot speak for anyone but myself, but I know what I am; I know who I am. I always feel like I have questions to be answered and answers to be questioned. I have so many arguments and conclusions, but no reasons for a lot of my own reasonings. It’s so… strange. Sometimes I used to wish there was a way out, but obviously there isn’t. It wasn’t that I hadn’t been searching for a way out. The thing is I probably wasn’t searching hard enough. Or maybe I was, but I was just failing to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It was like I was restricted and confined, limited to my thoughts when I clearly knew that I wasn’t. I’m still deducing and contemplating things even now, just not at such an extreme level. I’ve been on my journey of self discovery and I can honestly say that it’s quite a torturous feeling. You feel like you’re stuck. Like you’d come too far and there was absolutely no looking back, but you desperately wished you could turn around and walk away from everything.

When, in the end, you find what you’re looking for, you realize that the whole agonizing journey was well worth the torture because once you’re out, you’re out. Your outlook on everything changes. Your thoughts, your visions, your understanding all belong to you and only you, and that’s when you understand what the point of the whole journey was. The point is you. You went looking for something, but had no idea what exactly that something was. It’s a distant concept, the image is really fuzzy, and you’re completely clueless and lost, but when you come out of it, the concept is so welcoming and familiar, the image is clear, and you have all of your answers. You were lost, but are now found because that fuzzy image that you couldn’t recognize at first was you, and when you see it, you don’t see anything else. It’s an intoxicating sort of happiness, but not one that brings you down in any way. If anything, it raises you to a higher level of thought.

What did I learn from this whole journey? Life goes on no matter what. It’s just the matter of how ready you are and how open you are to accept the changes and move on because in the end it’s you who is to believe it and accept it. Questions will always be present and answers will keep coming, and you will continue to question those answers and pose them as new questions. All you require is patience. There is no way out if you keep trying to escape it because then it will keep haunting you and will follow you to the grave. There is a way out if you face it with patience and accept it.

Do not restrict yourself with preconceived notions and don’t deduce and contemplate until you are through with it completely. It’s like knowing the path and talking about it and walking the path and then taking about it! You know what the difference is? It’s just the experience, so it’s better that you go through it, pass through it, but don’t let anything harm your dignity and never lose your self-respect. Even if you have, then you have to regain it, because that’s what keeps your life going. That’s all that matters in the end. In the end, you are not lost; it’s a phase you’re going through. You’re not confused; you’re in a complex thought process, much higher than what you may be used to and comfortable with, where you have to choose the right answer without prejudice. It took me a good 6-7 months, but I believed it, accepted it, and moved on accordingly. That’s all that ever mattered to begin with.

Now when I look at those graves, I see tombstones with names, dates, and occasionally a few quotes, but more importantly, I see what I have found before I’m in one of those graves. I’ve found what’s most important in life and essential to my being. I’ve found my “self.”