Find your identity: Go to nature and look for yourself


This is inside the special kitten room.

Who am I? Who are you? “I guess who I am is exactly the same as you are. Not better than. Not less than. Because there is no one who has been or will ever be exactly the same as either you or me.” – Sense8

The view of Lake Arrowhead above sea level.

Have you ever wondered what life was if you never changed? One life you continuous live over and over again. No change. Nothing new. I’d hate that for sure.

For me, change is always required to live a spontaneous life. Building a life with constant change that progressively builds a person’s character — that is my goal. But where do you find that place of change?

For me, that place is Lake Arrowhead. The early, billowing fog repeatedly brought a sense of wonder on one recent trip there during a church retreat. The aesthetically pleasing colors of nature combined with the endless horizons, and the mountainous range displaying different shades of green, reminded me of the romantic painting Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog depicting the true meaning of nostalgia. This feeling of nostalgia not only refreshed my mind from continually thinking, but brought back the optimistic experiences from wherever in life.

Mysteriously blinded and led outside of my Lake Arrowhead cabin to the balcony, I clutched the rope outside.

Notes are held in these bags.
The blindfolded campers follow the rope.

Initially, I had no realization about my current situation, just a perplexing thought. Then a voice commanded the group to follow the rope without lifting the gaudy blindfold. With only the sounds of tranquil nature, my hands tightly groped the rope and using my feet to guide myself with one foot scanning the balcony floor, my sense of touch examined the area. A clump of branches swayed back and forth smacked my face. A boulder-sized rock bashed my big toe. And the enclosed space filled with approximately 50 people began to open up as I felt the aroma of sweet air rather than a whiff of perfume or cologne.

A repetition of words from the same speaker uttered, “Raise your hand if you need help!” Confident I was going to escape this man-made labyrinth, I ignored the voice and proceeded along. Following the rope, I continued to utilize my foot to sweep the floor, sensing the same objects again: a branch whipping my face, a rock pounding my foot, and an increase breathing room. Was I in a circle?

Again the voice said, “Raise your hand if you need help!” Ignored once more, I scanned the cabin’s balcony. The same obstacles blocked my way: the identical branch and rocks.

This time a shout rung in my ear, “RAISE! YOUR! HAND! IF! YOU! NEED! HELP!” A twitch in my fingers. One movement in my thumb. Then in my index finger, and the following finger reached the air. The hand rose into the unpolluted air. Unnoticed, I assumed, I bent my entire arm at a 90-degree angle.

With a quiver in my voice and I said “Cccc…aan-”, but before I could finish my sentence someone pulled me away from the rope and lifted up the mask. The illuminating light burned my eyes, but it was an exhilarating sight. The sun had barely risen. The birds and trees were on right side. This event refreshed my understanding of life and helped my comes to terms with who was I?

This activity is called a spider web.

You think you know everything about yourself as an adolescent. If you think that, trust me, you are definitely wrong. I am only surrounded by a coterie of people  — friends, family and occasionally some acquaintances— but it was pretty clear I need to broaden my horizons. Looking over the mountains, into the seas, and back home and to travel even in controversial and violent-filled countries, that is my goal. To broaden my perception in life.

That’s why I immediately respond to my youth group minister — Ban Thanh Niên in Vietnamese — about the upcoming retreat. A new set of people to interact with, a variety of age groups and numerous personalities  —  this was my chance upon identifying who I was. That activity described the lost perspective I felt in my identity. Trees and rocks, the obstacles in my life, served a purpose. The branches and leaves represented the criticism I receive throughout life that will haunt me. And the rocks resembled the people in life who will deliberately clash with me.

People play instruments and sing-a-long.

However, I learned the obstacles I face every day will serve as a reminder of something I can build endurance and confidence from. Experiences like these help me examine and reflect upon life and continue to seek improvements from it.

As another journey ends, another begins. Growth and experience shape a person’s character. Good or bad, these trials form an entirely new person that intensifies unfamiliar and strange parts hidden in life. For me, those questioned areas in life prove difficult; I felt I was travelling through a rapid, aggressive river where the currents could’ve push me away before reaching the other side. And isn’t that the whole point, the other side? Well, the other side figuratively represents profound knowledge, not book smarts or anything like that, but a new piece in your puzzle.