When you first begin something new, you’re in a completely new world. You can’t see anything, you don’t know where you’re going, you don’t know where you should go.
It’s almost like feeling around in a dark cave.
Life is feeling around in a dark cave.
When you begin learning a new skill, it’s like you’re entering a dark cave. There is light behind you, and it’s safe. However, you’re an adventurer, and you know within this cave there is gold, somewhere.
You also realize there is danger in your cave. Bears, lava, spike traps, cave-ins, all the monsters your parents told you weren’t in your closet. The monsters are in your cave.
You don’t know where you’re going, you don’t know where you should go. Everything in this new world is unknown to you, and you can’t see.
The same is often realized in our lives. Many of our younger selves thought: “I can’t wait until I’m older, I’ll have it all figured out then.” You too? Well, if you don’t look for light, if you don’t explore your cave, you’ll still be in the same dark unknown that you were as a child. You still won’t have an identity, you’ll still be feeling around in the dark, damp, cave.
The solution, is finding sources of light.
These sources of light will give you the faith & confidence to explore more of your cave.
Finding Your Light
As you start gaining experience, slowly you begin mapping out your cave and how it looks. Your first source of light is usually the size of a match. It’s not very bright, and it doesn’t help you out the way you want to be helped.
You want spotlights, floodlights, and preferably a sunny day. Life doesn’t work that way, nothing is given to you as you want it.
The match may only give you enough light to realize how lost you are. This is the point where many people decide the darkness is too difficult to bear and they shut their eyes forever, giving up on exploring their caves.
Most people stop here.
They stop setting goals for themselves in their lives because they see how much work they must do to accomplish them. These people stop with a match, stop progressing as a human, and retreat into areas of their lives that give them maximum comfort while minimizing stress or challenge.
These people try to learn a new skill, slowly, begin to get the hang of it, then quit. They finally find their match, realize they have so much more to learn, and retreat from it like a child running back into the arms of mommy, where comfort is plentiful and pain is least.
Run into the darkness.
The match never burns out. We make the choice to close our eyes. When the match is a gift, not a curse. When you see how much you don’t know, Andreian’s use it as an opportunity to challenge themselves, to slay a dragon.
The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.
Henry David Thoreau | Walden
The worst thing that can happen in your cave is turning away from a dragon to slay, or not leaving a comfortable cavern room to find more to explore within yourself.
The worst calamity a hero can face, is not having a dragon to slay, or a princess to rescue. The hero grows lethargic, puts on weight, stays at a job he hates and accepts his miserable fate in the same village he was born in thirty years ago.
What a life.
Your match has no limit to the light it can produce. Ask as much as possible from your match, investigate every lumen it produces for you. See how your match can be used to get even more light for your cave.
All Caves Are Different.
Your cave may have fifty dragons, her cave may have five. All our caves have unlimited treasure and dangers depending on how deep and how far we want to travel. Our caves are infinite worlds of love, happiness, and glory. Our caves can be an infinite hell of depression, anger, and malice.
It’s your mission to light up as much of your cave as possible.
Become the expert navigator in your cave: Learn where the treasure is, and where the treachery is.
Caves have terrible traps and wonderful riches.
As you begin mapping your cave, the thought of treasure becomes irresistible. The thought of treasure makes our mouths water, and our toes curl. That’s what we want to find the treasure, to live the best lives within our caves.
You cannot forget the traps. The lava, the addiction, the depression, the false rooms, the distractions, the fake gold.
The more light you have, the easier it is for you to see the difference between traps and riches.
The more light you have, the more you can see inside your cave and determine where to go, and where to avoid.
Exploring For Light
As you crawl through your cave, you feel the dark, wet, floor beneath you. You crawl for what feels like days, months, maybe even years with your sole match guiding you, producing the smallest amount of light to keep you going.
Then, you find another match.
It’s right on the floor in front of you. It could have been missed hundreds of times, it could have been placed there mysteriously.
That doesn’t matter.
What matters, is you light it as bright as it can be, and continue onward for more light, more knowledge, more experience in your cave.
Use this win to propel you further into your cave, further reinforcing your will to hold your eyes open, no matter what horrors and monstrosities you may face.
Use your light as a reminder of how good it feels to explore, and to learn.
Don’t use your light as an excuse to stop seeking out more sources. No matter who you are, where you are, there is always more light that can be found, more that you can do in your cave.
Light can also be discouraging. After crawling for what feels like ages, you finally find a flashlight. You could throw away the matches, store them for later, or keep them with you.
The flashlight shows you how large your cave is. With more light, often comes the realization that the cave is bigger, much bigger, than what we thought.
We look at our caves with a flashlight. We see we’re in a central room, so large we can’t see the ceiling, with hundreds upon hundreds of tunnels to explore.
We have just enough light to see how much we don’t know, how much left we can explore, travel, and master. How many questions are still unanswered, how many answers remain unknown to us.
This scares us. We thought we were in control. We thought we knew everything. Now, we begin to realize we know just enough, to see how much we don’t know.
This is another stopping point. Many people close their eyes once they get their flashlights. They fear the darkness and decide to retreat into their minds, back into being busy, doing nothing, or moving into a trap room.
That addictive fake treasure may be false and make us feel terrible, but it’s known to us, and we take comfort in what we know. Even in our pain, we take comfort, because it’s what we know.
The Darkness Is A Gift
You need to understand the darkness is not a curse, the darkness is a gift. The darkness is your teacher, it shows you the areas you don’t understand: The darkness shows you the exact places you need to go to grow.
Once you stop fearing the darkness and embrace it, you’re free to become the greatest version of yourself.
Embracing the darkness also opens the potential to finding traps and hazards. When that happens, you can decide to be a victim to these hazards, or learn from them.
When you find a trap in your cave, like an addiction, mark it in your cave.
Alcohol could be a cave room full of quicksand. One step in the sand, and it will take you years, maybe longer to climb out. This is not a room of your cave you want to spend a considerable amount of time in. Unless, it’s to plug the hole, and plant flowers over the top.
Many of the hazards we face can be used for our benefit. If you can see the potential in the trait of your cave, you just may be able to alter its purpose, its metaphor.
The Darkness Doesn’t Care About You
This is a beautiful notion, you’re free to enter as many treasure rooms, or sit in the comfort of a terrible section of your cave that you know. It’s your choice how you want to explore your cave.
The darkness will be there like a parent watching over your shoulder. The darkness won’t help you, but it won’t hurt you either. The darkness sits and observes.
Many of us hate, fear, and despise the darkness.
What a sad waste of energy we use.
These people die in their dark caves.
The darkness will always be there waiting for you to illuminate it. Hating the darkness is just fine. It’s no different than being angry at the color of the sky, or the size of the sun. Sitting in the comfortable section of your cave, will only make the darkness worse.
Start with avoiding closing your eyes to it, and focus on illuminating more of your cave.
The Danger Within Our Caves
We keep our eyes closed, we stay in abusive trap rooms in our caves in several ways.
Some of the ways we keep our eyes closed include:
- Social media
- Endless YouTube videos
- Fast food
- Video Games
Distraction is the theme. Being distracted closes your eyes to the possibility of light. When you binge watch your favorite shows, do you understand the cost?
These are some of the ways, some of the excuses we use to keep our eyes closed so we no longer have to grow, we no longer have to light our caves up. We’re just too dang busy.
Some of the worst rooms in our caves include:
- Drug addiction
- Abusive relationships
- A job we know we’re better than.
- Familiar trauma.
While these rooms are familiar to us, they’re killing us too. We’re afraid to leave the traps, the rooms full of deadly spikes because they’re all we know. We are afraid of the darkness when our caves are filled with the possibility of gold.
If you’re comfortable in a terrible room of your cave, search for a light. Enough of a light, strong enough, to give you hope and courage to begin exploring for a new life. To begin exploring for a better room to stay. Who knows, you may spend the rest of your time revealing more rooms of your cave.
Regardless of what you decide to do, staying in a terrible section of your cave is no longer an option.
You need to find your why. Why do it? Why continue forward? What moves me, enough to force myself to get up off the damp ground and explore?
Find your why.
a fully illuminated cave.
The biggest regrets of the dying tend to concentrate on not taking enough chances, not loving hard enough, not starting your own business, not doing what you love, not exploring your cave in its wonderful entirety.
An Australian Nurse, Bronnie Ware, conducted a study to find out what are the top five regrets of the dying. Below are her findings:
- I wish I pursued my dreams, instead of chasing the dreams others wanted for me.
- I wish I didn’t work so hard.
- I wish I had the courage to speak my mind.
- I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
- I wish I had let myself be happier.
Interpreting The Answers
- Why did I chase the dreams of my boss, my spouse, instead of what I wanted?
- Why did I work in a cubicle for thirty years, instead of writing the novel I sat on for seventy years?
- Why was I a coward? Why was I never authentic to myself?
- Why did I allow myself to be so lonely, and never be vulnerable enough to love?
- Why didn’t I enjoy my life?
If these entries don’t provoke you into action, you need to deeply consider what you want from your life.
You may never light your cave enough to even realize what you want. Until you realize one day you will die. But it’s too late to explore your cave, you can’t get out of the hospital bed without help.
Once you finally find enough light to know who you are, you’re almost dead. Therefore it’s crucial to find more light, to read, to try, to grow. Even more so when you’re young, and you have so much time on your hands. Time that is usually wasted, but doesn’t have to be if you understand the value of time.
Your cave is learning a new skill.
Your cave is starting a new job.
Your cave is learning more about a significant other.
Your cave is your life.
How will you explore?