We have to come from somewhere. We may try to forget, regret or try to erase the fact or we may, on the contrary, make an effort to reclaim our origins, homeland or traditions, but our personal or family past will always be an important part of our being and our identity. Whether we like it or not, we belong to our memories. Life is short, and none of the important events we remember will ever disappear; images return or fade away, echo and mirror one another, speak with one voice or clash in the midst of our joys, pain, doubts or hopes. We are always looking for ‘something’ in the light of our past-belonging, because we want to rediscover certain joys, a few habits and a friendly or loving presence, or because we want to avoid suffering, abandonment, disappointment, pain or violence.
What are we looking for? Probably for well-being, peace, reassurance, harmony and love. Our past sometimes helps us and sometimes hinders us. We always have to revisit the past, understand it, disentangle it, tame it and forget it, but we can never really flee from it.We have to live with it and come to terms with it. We know that we have to seek and, basically, to find. Sometimes we do not even know what we are looking for, and other times we know exactly what we have to find, but cannot find it. And sometimes we have already found what we are still looking for. This is disturbing and difficult. And as we wander, we really want to belong to ourselves, to be ourselves and to feel that we possess ourselves.
“The Quest for Meaning” – Tariq Ramadan, pp. 161-165