Reflections

The Unexamined Life

By Rukh-Shana Namuyimba:

“Man stands in his own shadow and wonders why it’s dark.”
~Zen Proverb~

I think it was Sydney J. Harris, the American journalist for the Chicago Daily News and later Chicago Sun-Times who wrote in one of his books that 90% of the world’s woe comes from people not knowing themselves, their abilities, their frailties, and even their real virtues. He makes a strong case for most of us who go almost all the way through life as complete strangers to ourselves and yet expect to know others let alone have others really know who we are.

Contrary to popular belief, the toughest and perhaps most fruitful conversations we will ever have are with ourselves. Looking back on some of the tough conversations I've had with myself and those I'm yet to summon the courage to have, I shudder. And perhaps you're in that space; dangling at your wits-end; quivering at the possible answers to those questions you dare not ask and yet knowing, only too well, that therein lays the key to your freedom. Hair rising as they may be, we must have these conversations, if no other reason, that we would rid the world, in part at least, of its many a wretched woe.

“But where do I start?” you wonder.  And I ask, “Do you know You, value You enough to focus on You?” It may sound a tad selfish but let’s face it, in the numerous equations of your life, you are the only constant; the only element you have absolute control over. If it has to start somewhere, it has to start with you. If it has to start to somewhere, it must start now. If it’s not clear, even to you, who you are and where you are headed why would you expect it to be clear to someone else? That’s too heavy a load to load on another's back.

A recent conversation with a friend & mentor got me thinking about how often we stand in our own shadows and in the same instant wonder why it's dark. I stand in the mirror and occasionally look around and all I see are people that are standing in their own shadows. I weep. I weep for the men and women living mediocre macabre lives – with jobs we are not passionate about, spouses we loathe, empty relationships we would sooner give up on at the blink of an eye & integrity we have cast to the wind. Where bellowing laughter once rung, now hollowness resounds. Where joy once danced, now despair has made her home. Where purity once made her bed now a stench blankets the air.

I weep for the man that stands in his own shadow and wonders why it's dark…

I weep for the unexamined life…

For in the words of Socrates, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

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3 thoughts on “The Unexamined Life”

  1. Funny you should write about this, I recently shared my own personal revelations about the same in my recent piece in the Apprentice https://readerscafeafrica.com/2012/05/who-am-i-really/ 
    There are indeed tough questions to be asked and answered for us to be all that we were meant to be and live a life worth living. Because as it stands, most of us are not.

  2. This spoke to me..deeply. Mediocrity and self destruction is what rules my life..maybe that freshly baked cake and coffee needs to be soon..

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