Life is a long journey. In this process, we encounter a variety of roads. Modern society places particular importance on wide and straight roads for fast and efficient transport. This kind of road is used to transport power as well as economic wealth and desire, and is always crowded with people making us believe that this road is safe. However, we find ourselves walking with other people on this road ultimately disappearing in a sea of people. We are “uni-form” (one form), and in this process have become anonymous.
On the other hand, if you want to exist as your own unique self, you need to find who you really are. To do this, an old metaphor, “narrow road” is commonly used. A narrow road is not fast, and is not a road to gain power or economic wealth. What is more, this road is uncertain since there are not many people on this road. However, as we walk along this narrow road, we come face to face with our “true selves.”
We are incomplete beings that must mold and shape our own world while being thrown into this world. Accordingly, each and every person should walk their own road faithfully and diligently whatever that road may be.
There are no clear signposts on this road. Walking on this road is like finding your way out of a thick fog. It is also like finding your way back out of a labyrinth without Ariadne’s thread. This road is uncertain, but this uncertainty is not something we need to avoid. Perhaps this is a sign uncovering the fact that we have come face to face with our own selves. As such, uncertainty is a characteristic of a narrow road leading us to discover our “free-spirited self.”
We can figure out the answer to the question of “Who am I?” by reflecting upon the roads we have walked. These roads are always chasing us like a shadow leaving behind traces of ourselves. Steep and winding roads, busy roads, leisurely roads; roads we have walked alone and with friends, roads where we felt happiness and sadness-all of these roads are behind us. These traces become more distinct unveiling our true selves and to achieve this, we need to imprint our footsteps on these roads.
Only you can help yourself while walking on this narrow road. Although it may be lonesome and uncertain, this is the time to take control of your life. You need to choose which road to take on that forked road mustering up the courage and strength to overcome any obstacles along the way. Like Sisyphus, who rolled his huge rock up the hill, you must also faithfully and diligently walk your road. By taking charge of your life and by being self-reliant, you will have found your true self, that is, you will have embodied the “spirit of laissez-faire” defined by “no longer being afraid of anything and no longer wanting anything” because this is the spirit where you can be your own master.
The road you walk as a university student is taking that first step towards becoming the “spirit of laissez-faire.” Although it may be difficult, you will ultimately find your true self after you have faithfully and diligently walked that road.
Translated by Julia Kim