Even the nations of the world know that the biggest liar is one who lies to himself. In Shakespeare's Hamlet, Polonius says to son Laertes, "But above all, my son, to thine own self be true."
When a person lies to himself, and he tries to be someone else or something he's not, he become a double loser: first, he can't possibly be the other person, because he doesn't have the tools that Hashem gave that other person to do his or her job on earth. Second, he's not himself, and he's not using his own special tools to accomplish his own designated task on this earth.
Many people who speak to me often tell me that they're embarrassed of their true inner aspirations.
That's a tragedy.
Your dreams, goals, and inner aspirations are your spice of life. They give you the power to fly out of bed in the morning. What do you care what other people think? Do they care if you're happy or not? Don't bet on it.
Henry David Thoreau said, "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away." How did Thoreau come to this amazing conclusion? He spent hours on end in solitude. He came to the conclusion that the Creator dwells not only in all of creation, but in every person's soul.
So what if people turn their noses up at your music. Flow with your own melody and step to the beat of your own drum, for that's exactly what Hashem wants from you.
Above all, be straight with yourself.
Kind David teaches us (Psalm 97:11), "Light is sown for the righteous, but the straight of heart have happiness." I asked my beloved teacher, Rabbi Shalom Arush, which of the two is on a higher level and why. He told me that the straight of heart are on a higher level: they too are righteous, not only on the outside but on the inside too. They believe in what they do, and they're not putting on a show for anyone.
Sometimes, a person might eat strictly kosher food, learn Torah, and observe the Sabbath. Outwardly, he doesn't sin. But, if he lacks emuna and is merely "frum" from birth, not knowing or understanding why he is doing whatever he's been conditioned to do, then he won't be happy. He won't have a smile on his face, and if you greet him on the street with a toothy "Shalom," he probably won't return your greeting. Don't be upset with him, and don't take it personal - he's not happy, it's hard for him to smile...
The Gemara also lauds the "straight of heart." When a person's heart gets "crooked" from dishonesty - particularly from being dishonest with himself - Hashem send tribulations in effort to "straighten" the person's heart. So, if we're honest with ourselves, we save ourselves tons of grief.
King Solomon says that Hashem created all of us with straightness of the heart. But, by trying to be intellectuals and sophisticates rather than to serve Hashem with simple innocence, a person bends the pathways of the heart - his heart loses its straightness.
Imagine a long, dark tunnel. If it's straight, then you'll see the ray of light at the other end - you won't lose hope and you'll always know which direction to follow, for you see the beam of light. But, if the tunnel has curves to it, you won't see the light at the other end. The same goes for the heart.
If you feel darkness in life, stop for a moment. Ask yourself if you're really being honest with yourself. Ask yourself if you're being honest with Hashem. Hashem loves honesty. Sometimes, life is so very confusing, that we have no idea what the truth really is. That's why it's so very important to speak to Hashem every day, discuss with Him all of our deliberations, and ask Him to help us clarify the truth.
When we're sure of the truth, we're confident, motivated and happy. That's what King David meant when he said that "the straight of heart have happiness."
Not long ago, I received a letter from a 32-year old man who writes that he dreams of making Aliya, but his parents won't let him. A 21-year old college student wrote me that she longs to pursue an observant-Jewish lifestyle, but her parents won't let her. These are the types of personal tragedies that pinch my heart. I wrote them both to begin begging Hashem for the courage to dance to their own drummer. But, they are at least honest with themselves. Millions of other people are still in dark tunnels, because their hearts are crooked with self-deception. Don't be one of them.
Whatever you do, don't ever use "mind-bending" substances, for they bend the heart too. Those who seek the light by using substances only get more darkness instead.
As soon we start seeking the truth, we pave a straight lane in our hearts that takes us right to the truth, for we'll surely see Hashem's Divine light at the end of the tunnel. Be courageous, and go for it!
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