An old man was on his hands and knees under the streetlight searching for something. A younger man walking down the street saw him and asked the old man what he was searching for.
The old man replied, “I am looking for my key.”
The young man decided to join in the search for the lost key and got down on his hands and knees with the old man to look for it.
After a while, the young man asked the old man “Are you sure this is where you dropped your key?”
The old man replied “No! I dropped it close to my car parked there” pointing in the distance to a car parked in the dark.
The young man was furious and screamed “Are you crazy? Why would you look for your key here when you dropped it there? Why did you waste your time and mine looking in a place where you know you won’t find it?”
The old man replied, “Because it is dark there and I can’t see in the dark so I decided to find it under the street light instead”.
The key is a metaphor for all the missing things we are looking for in life: the key to happiness, love, wealth, fame, relationships etc. The darkness is our inner self, and the light is the external world.
I have heard many versions of this story over the years, but the message is always the same. We always look for things where there is light because we believe we cannot find things in the darkness. So, we look for things outside where we can see instead of within ourselves where we cannot. Looking for something where it doesn't exist is similar to having a blindfold over your eyes at all times : you have sight but you can't see. Ever thought of why you cannot find what you are looking for? Ever questioned yourself if you are looking for it in the right place?
We are told repeatedly that the answers to all questions are inside of us, then why do we look outside?
I recently coached a teenager who was struggling with connections. He felt he was not able to make friends or talk to people because they did not understand him. When I asked him what he wanted them to understand, he replied “I don’t know. I just want people to understand me without having to explain myself”. While that is a wonderful thought, in his case it was something he wanted because he wanted others to do the work he could not do - understand him!
This is a common problem we all face. We feel the world does not understand us but we never stop and wonder if we understand ourselves. We think the world judges us, but we never see how we judge ourselves. We feel our happiness lies in receiving love and appreciation from others but we never think we need to love ourselves. How can anyone else give us what we cannot give ourselves? Even if someone loves us, we will not be able to accept their love if we don’t know what love is. We will reject it as we don’t know that is what we are receiving.
It is heartbreaking to see children living their lives believing their parents do not love them even when they have loving parents; people in relationships believing their partners do not care for them even when they have loving and caring partners; everyone in general feeling disconnected when there are so many connections to be made.
So, before we go looking for everything on the outside where we think we can see, we need to embrace the darkness within and start by looking on the inside to understand what we are looking for, understand how we will know when we find it, and most importantly understand how to appreciate and enjoy it when we find it.
There are too many broken relationships not because there is no love to be found but because people are searching in the wrong places. There are too many people thinking they are failures not because they cannot succeed or don’t have what it takes but because they don’t know what they want to succeed at. They look at someone else’s success and try to imitate that or worse don’t even try because they believe they are ‘Not Good Enough’.
What can others give you if you are not willing to give anything to yourself? Who can love, respect, or appreciate you when you are hellbent on sabotaging yourself?
Only you know where you lost your key and only if you look in the right place will you find it. So, ask yourself “where did I lose my key to self-worth, self-love and self-dependence?” The answer can only be found within yourself. Let self-reflection be the light to illuminate your mind for that is where you will find what you are looking for. Remember, it's ok to ask for help but not ok to become helpless and expect others to help you when you continuously refuse to help yourself.
Until next time,
Kanchan ‘illuminating my mind’ Kulkarni