by Sandra Bark
When our missing selves are not to be found in the living room or the bedroom, at the office or at the corner bar, behind door #1 or door #2, we widen the search. We go farther afield, to Hollywood or Bangkok, to Narnia or Fillory, so that we might find ourselves whole and handsome, in a place where we belong, where we can grow, where we can say, here, here I am, this is it, this is my true self.
A shift in context can be very valuable, of course. Otherwise people would never go off to college or on pilgrimages; we would never become pioneers or pirates or astronauts. Whether we are seeking self-realization, self- definition, or self-actualization, sometimes, a going is part of a becoming. Without the hero’s journey, there would be no hero.
But we don’t always have to buy a ticket in order to set sail.
A few years ago, I lived around the corner from a place we’ll call Mala. I walked by that door a hundred times, and I did not go in. I was too busy. I had things to do, I had places to see, I had selves to find.
Then, one day, between trips and assignments and appointments, I walked in the door. It felt like crawling through a closet and coming out the other side in an enchanted forest. I was a tourist at the beginning; I kept coming back until I felt like a local.
And I realized: we can go to Borneo and India and Guatemala, and we should. But you don’t always have to leave to find yourself if you fear you have been misplaced. Sometimes a necessary journey starts around the corner instead of around the world.
You don’t need a ticket to go to Narnia, and you don’t need a visa to visit Mala. You just need to find the door.
And then you need to walk in.