When King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table sought the Holy Grail they entered the dark forest alone without a guide. It was this solitary action that set them on a true quest of seeking. What they were seeking was most wondrous and mysterious and the knights could not find it without going off on their own. They were seeking the truth.
“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”
The truth is not an opinion. The truth is not a perspective. The truth is simply what it is. The problem with discovering the truth is that the truth is so very often personal.
Zen Buddhism talks of Satori, a moment of sudden enlightenment and awakening to the reality of the world. We have all experienced these moments; moments of clarity when we see our lives exactly as they are and we know the path we must tread. But these moments are fleeting. The truth is easily seen in one moment and lost in the next.
Merriam Webster’s Dictionary defines an opinion as a view, judgment, or appraisal formed in the mind about a particular matter; a generally held view.
We are inundated by opinions and perspectives and these can be confused as the truth. Media tells us what the best shampoo is to buy, what car to drive and what clothes “make the man”. We learn what boys should act like. We learn how girls should behave. We learn what job we should have and what it means to be successful. We learn so much but the majority of what we learn, what we assume are the facts of our lives are nothing more than a vintage of our perspectives from the past.
When in the forest of truth we can easily become disoriented by the trees of “would”, “should” and “could”. As quickly as the truth appears it is gone, lost amongst doubt and social messaging. We begin to tread another’s path through the forest.
Merriam Webster’s Dictionary defines true as being in accordance with the actual state of affairs, conformable to an essential reality or fully realized or fulfilled.
We need to ask are we acting in accordance with who we really are. Are we conforming to our own essential reality? Are we fully realizing and fulfilling our own lives?
“It is a sad regret to have searched for the truth and settled for an answer.”
Rarely do we follow our truth. We settle for the answers that society provides for us. We settle for the opinions of others. We settle for lessons of our past perspectives. Self-doubt and a need for acceptance become the biggest obstacles to following our own truth. Fear of judgment and being ostracized by those most important to us keep us from walking our path.
How many times have we allowed other’s opinions sway our decisions? How often have we not spoken up so others wouldn’t judge us? How often have we failed to put our trust in ourselves because of past failures?
I have done this.
In planning my 12 month motorcycle journey I became deeply lost. In the beginning, this trip was a journey of self-discovery and personal freedom. This journey was personal but as it grew and word spread others began to offer their opinions and perspectives on how it should best be done. People with the best intentions began to offer advice of where to go and what to see. Others offered well-intentioned opinions about what this journey meant to them and all of sudden I found myself lost among a myriad of opinions, perspectives and feeling the need to meet other’s expectations. I had forgotten what this trip was all about.
It was about me.
A blog that began as a simple documentation of the trip became an endless review of blog statistics and numbers of ‘followers’ and ‘shares’. I had succumbed to being lost and began attempting to write what would garner the most ‘shares’ and ‘likes’. I began to tailor my trip route to accommodate those that had been gracious enough to offer a room, a couch or even just a cup of coffee as I traveled the USA. I became angry. Unreasonably angry over the smallest things and could not understand why.
It was not until it was pointed out to me that though I was still planning my motorcycle trip I had stop planning my personal journey. I had stopped the journey of self discover and began the journey of discovery of everyone else’s thoughts of what this ride was meant to be. I was fulfilling someone else dream and attempting to live up to someone else’s expectations.
I had stopped walking my path. I had lost control and felt powerless. Anger, for me, has always been an emotion of power and control.
To get back to the truth, I had to go back to my priorities; to the things I value most in life. In the beginning of this whole journey I began by discovering my priorities, the 6 things I value most in life. If I wanted to find the truth in my life I had to engage in the things that gave my life value. Topping the list was freedom. As soon as I started to plan the trip based on numbers and statistics, accruing fame and followers I became beholden to chasing those things, trapped by those things. Trapped has never been something that I value in my life.
I had to come back to the truth of the journey. 12 months of freedom. That is it. I do not have to ride all 12 months. I don’t have to go anywhere. I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to. I can do and go wherever I want for however long I want. I had to stop settling for everyone else’s answers and fully embrace me.
“Where there is a way or path, it is someone else’s path. You are not on your own path. If you follow someone else’s way, you are not going to realize your potential.”
The Truth is:
- Yours and yours alone
- Deeply personal
- Difficult to follow
The Truth isn’t:
- An opinion
- A perspective
The Truth is found:
- by not giving into expectations of others
- and lost and found again over and over
- by living out those things we value most in life.
To find the truth we must be willing walk our own path in the dark forest. We must forsake the opinions of others and perhaps even more uncomfortable we must be willing to stop filtering our present through the lens of past perspectives.