I’ve told more than a few people that when I arrived from Iowa to live in Kansas City, I was finally able to find myself.
The idea of finding myself made sense to me. During the years I’d lived with my family of origin, I felt I didn’t belong. The phrase “fish out of water” fit. My family loved me well enough, I felt, but they just did not know me.
The human experience is strange. We can search Google and “Hey, Siri …?” just about anything and learn the answer. However, there isn’t any shortcut to the answer of self.
What it means to find yourself
When we struggle with our own journey of self, sometimes it’s easier to understand that journey by observing how others traveled it.
I was always fascinated by the story of Laura Ingalls Wilder, who wrote the Little House on the Prairie books. I identified with her pioneer woman spirit, of course. However, more to the point, I felt pulled in by Pa Ingalls’s character, someone who seemed compelled to move on, try again, find someplace better.
That urge to search, to look for and to find home, seems to live as an iconic idea embedded not only in the American experience but also in the human one.
Life is a “journey,” and we are supposed to enjoy that journey, not concern ourselves with the destination—even while we remind ourselves there is “no place like home.”
It seems counterintuitive to discover, then, that home, as much as we seek its comfort, is not a destination. Home is not a place to return to or come from.
Eventually we discover the comfort of home is within. Home is the Truth of the divine self that never leaves us. It’s a journey, a manifested awakening, reflected throughout our lives.
Redefining home: Choosing your possibility
In the 1936 essay “The Principle of Identity,” Unity cofounder Charles Fillmore compared the human experience to that of a seed that chooses to live either on barren ground or fertile ground.
“The divine seed, the I AM-age of God at the center of a man’s being that is at the very center of man’s mind, has all possibility within it, and all the conditions necessary to its perfect fruition all about it, but it has freedom of choice,” Fillmore wrote.
“It can lie inert for centuries, like the grains of wheat found in Egyptian tombs, or it can spring into quickening life and bring forth abundantly.”Charles Fillmore
How long does it take to come to this revelation? And then what do we do when we discover the other truth that accompanies it: Our life’s experience is now our own for the making?
The journey to the self as action
When I start to get a bit lost and feel as if I have no answers, I return to the wise words frequently attributed to Maya Angelou:
A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.
There’s a difference between knowing an answer and successfully living in that knowledge. For example, most people understand eating healthy and exercise will make a difference, but does having that knowledge magically shed pounds? From the power of thought, we then must engage the power of action.
The same is true with the realization that home cannot ever be “found.” It’s not out there somewhere waiting for us with open arms. While we find spiritual communities, friend groups, and urban families that become a place of solace and comfort, home is ultimately within.
In her essay “Home” from the book Letter to My Daughter (Random House, 2008), Angelou writes why she feels one can never leave home.
“We may act sophisticated and worldly but I believe we feel safest when we go inside ourselves and find home, a place where we belong and maybe the only place we really do.”Maya Angelou
By finding that sense of safety within, finding self-acceptance, and then by engaging our creative spirit, we begin to connect with our true purpose.
The further we travel on the road within and demonstrate our purpose through action, the greater the comfort of home becomes.
The bird sings a song not to find an answer, or to get paid, or to send a message of the concern from its cage. The bird sings because it has a song.
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” —Psalm 119:105