The Man who Joined the Search Party Looking for Himself

October 6, 2021

3 min read


Muster the courage to examine the only place we can truly find who we are looking for – inside ourselves.

I didn't know if I should laugh or cry.

I read the news item about a Turkish man who joined a search party for a missing person, not realizing the person everyone was looking for was him!

In the town of Inegol, northwest Turkey, Beyhan Mutlu, 51, went drinking with a buddy in a forest. He didn't return home and his wife reported him missing. She heard he had walked away from his friend, drunk.

While Mutlu was sleeping in a house in the forest, military forces and rescue teams were called in to search for him.

Mutlu woke up in the morning and came across members of the search party. He decided to help them find the missing person. Once he heard them calling out his name, it dawned on him that he was the focus of the search.

Mutlu told Turkish news that he told them he was in fact Beyhan Mutlu, the man they were looking for, but they continued to search. "They didn’t believe me. The truth came out when my friend saw me."

He spent more than half an hour looking high and low for himself.

It's hard to resist turning a story like this into metaphor for life.

To find myself, I need to look within, not outside of myself.

So many people are out there in the forest, joining the party and searching for themselves, without stopping to realize: I'm right here. To find myself, I need to look within, not outside of myself.

We hunger and yearn for connection, meaning and self-understanding. Driven to fill the void, we join the throngs of people, co-travelers who are also searching, and set our focus externally, too afraid to closely examine the only place we can find who we are looking for – inside ourselves.

We are masters at distractions, attempting to fill that inner ache through an endless stream of ersatz meaning – approval and attention from wherever we can get it, a bevy of addictions (food, films, fun, fantasy, drugs), external power and success – while we move further away from person we're really looking for.

We need to hit the handbrake and stop (too bad that Facebook/Whatsapp/Instagram outage we experienced this week wasn't longer than six hours). In order to find the person we're looking for, we need to stop roaming the forest and muster the courage to look inside ourselves.

In his 48 Ways to Wisdom series, Rabbi Noah Weinberg placed a huge emphasis on urging people to take the time to answer, with clarity and conviction, these questions: What am I living for? What are my priorities in life? What is my game plan to attain these goals? In order to answer these foundational questions, it's essential to spend time interviewing the most fascinating person you could ever meet in the world: yourself.

Rabbi Weinberg encouraged us to sit down with pen and paper, phones turned off, and take the time necessary to answer the following questions:

  • What are my primary goals in life?
  • Why did I choose this career? Am I satisfied with it?
  • For what do I want to be remembered?
  • How can I be happier and more fulfilled?
  • What are my secret dreams and ambitions? Why haven't I fulfilled them?
  • How can I be a better parent, spouse, friend?

Answering these questions play an important role in understanding who you are. Call off the search party. The person you're looking for is right there inside of you. Take the time, determination and focus to discover who you really are.

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