People travel to wonder at the height of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars; and they pass by themselves without wondering. ~ Saint Augustine (354-430)
It’s true, isn’t it? Many of us look beyond ourselves to improve or deflect experience of ourselves.
It’s also true that some of us are consciously and continuously mindful of our thoughts and actions. This same number understands how both interplay to shape who and what we encounter and experience, as well as who and what we individually are. Many more of us are blinded by the everyday and its many distractions. We get lost in the details of living and miss meaningful self-reflection along the way. We confuse an active self with a mindful self, and we allow routine, expectation, avoidance, and denial–among others–to stand in the way of self-exploration and self-discovery.
The isn’t to say that the endlessly mindful don’t encounter the same stumbling stones the rest of us do. Or that the greatest stumblers among us don’t engage in self-reflection. It’s more to say that many if not most of us could and should be more aware of the many facets of ourselves. Of the many thoughts and actions that define our interactions. Of the many moments we focus elsewhere thinking we’re focusing homeward. Of the many wonders that underlie and define the uniqueness of our being. Of the many impacts we have on the world and those around us.
Certainly we all can travel to contemplate and appreciate the beauty of nature. We can just as surely sit with and contemplate ourselves to gain a firsthand understanding and appreciation of who and what–if not why, how, and where–we are. After all, the world that extends beyond us is colored by the world that exists within us. Time and energy can inevitably make both beautiful. When it comes to bettering ourselves, though, it’s up to us to extend mindful interest and to expend conscious energy.
By all means, travel to engage with, better understand, and marvel at the world. By equal if not greater means, make an effort to engage with, better understand, and improve yourself. Both you and the world will be thankful that you did. Both you and the world will be bettered if you continue to do so.