My journey towards myself began many years ago, but I was able to become aware of it only a few months ago, when I was freed from the material attachments I had created.
Searching for meaning
Life is a journey, just an endless journey, despite the illusion of having sometimes reached the final stage. In fact, life is made up with successive final stages. It is a path of learning, a journey towards discovering who we are and then what we can do. We grow up and one day, we become aware of our finitude. And then things change. We question ourselves on the purpose of our lives: What am I doing here? With what I am, my qualities and my faults, what am I destined for? Personally, I chose to believe that life has meaning, although sometimes doubt catches me up . But having curiosity, faith and hope, I prefer to believe that what happens to us has a meaning and that we came to this earth to fulfill a mission
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Story of a journey
So, one day, I had the intuition that I have to leave everything to continue learning on myself and my ‘mission’ and I left my home country. My intention was to find communities with which I can share same values and ideas. But it took several years for my project to take shape and to become conscious of my deepest feelings; I had to get rid of my belongings, but also some of my dreams and fantasies. After selling my house, I moved to Paris. But my heart was not there anymore. I was bored, and what had fascinated me for a while, irritated me. So I decided to leave the country.
Passionate about transpersonal psychology, I decided to continue studying what will always remain a mystery: the human psyche. So I enrolled for an PhD in San Francisco and I decided to go there, with the intention to understand why progressive ideas are often emerging in this part of the world. The decision was not really well thought out, but it was obvious to me. I continued to liquidate the few pieces of furniture I had left and booked a plane ticket after reserving a room via AirBnb. I had traveled a lot before, every year, sometimes several times a year. I traveled out of necessity, as I was born in a country at war, then as a tourist and finally for professional reasons. Travelling alone was not a problem for me.
I flew to the United States on December 8, 2023.
Discovering and understanding
And I found myself in a house that was already home to seven other tenants, all much younger. I could have been their mother. Living together went well, and it’s a nice solution if you go to a place where you don’t know anyone. Friendships can develop, as I found out. It could have happened to me if I was younger and more available or less independent.
I started by looking for my community in the academic world. But I did not find it. But I still have this feeling that I should stay in the country. I then became interested in the history, culture, architecture and, of course, the people. I discovered the power of money and saw people dying in the streets, in the center of a materially rich city, to the indifference or fear of passers-by. I came to understand what it means to have a sense of service, because everything here is designed to make your life easier. You just need to have a certain financial level.
I met people who made a lasting impression on me, like Bill, always smiling, proud to share his job as a storekeeper. Leuven, an African-American with sad eyes, that I met at a spiritual center. After three months, I had to return to France, driven out by a toothache. Being sensitive to signs, I looked for the symbolism of this abscess: I understood that I was having difficulty externalizing an internal change. I was in the process of changing my identity. But giving birth to oneself takes time, and fears can resurface during this process.
But I came back to San Francisco a few months later, because I knew I’d taken an essential step in my life and that there was no turning back. In the meantime, the American authorities told me that my immigration file had been accepted.
How can this story be interpreted?
First of all, I think it’s important not to be afraid to call everything into question when you feel frustration or boredom. This is linked to the existential question: what is life? Is it a limited time-space which has been given to accumulate goods? I do not think so. Life is a journey which involves a number of compulsory stages: getting to know ourselves, then opening up to the outside world and finding our place in it.
It’s possible to get lost on this path and confuse the goal with the means. For example, many people think that having lots of money will make them happier. What if the opposite were true? It is because people are on their way that they earn money. The objective is to find and realize oneself, and earning money is a means to an end.
This also brings us back to the notion of wealth and interiority versus exteriority. What does it mean to be rich? I’ve met so many people with little money but who had attained such a level of inner peace and discernment that they were indifferent to external turmoil. They personified the detachment described by the Buddhist tradition. I believe that personality is a major factor in this state and I will come back to this in a later article.
And you? Where do you stand on the spectrum from material to inner wealth? There are no right or wrong answers, because all choices are legitimate if they are consciously made.