Caravaggio; St John the Baptist, c. 1604
"None of this is for yourself," the young soul tells itself. No one can build for you the bridge upon which you alone must cross the stream of life, no one but you alone. To be sure, there are countless paths and bridges and demigods that want to carry you through this stream, but only at the price of your self; you would pawn and lose your self. There is one single path in this world on which no one but your can travel. Where does it lead? Do not ask, just take it. Who was it who made the statement: "A man never rises higher than when he does not know where his path may lead him"? †
But how can we find ourselves again? How can the human being get to know himself? He is a dark and veiled thing; and if the hare has seven skins, the human being can shed seven times seventy skins and still not be able to say: "This is really you, this is no longer outer shell." Besides, it is an agonising, dangerous undertaking to dig down into yourself in this way, to force your way by the shortest route down the shaft of your own being. How easy it is to do damage to yourself that no doctor can heal. And moreover, why should it be necessary, since everything - our friendships and enmities, our look and our handshake, our memory and what we forget, our books and our handwriting - bears witness to our being.
But there is only one way in which this crucial inquiry can be carried out. let the young soul look back on its life with the question: What have you up to now truly loved, what attracted your soul, what dominated it whilst simultaneously making it happy? Place this series of revered objects before you and perhaps their nature and their sequence will reveal to you a law, the fundamental law of your authentic self. Compare these objects, observe how one completes, expands, surpasses, transfigures the others, how they form a stepladder on which until now you have climbed up to yourself; for your true being does not lie deeply hidden within you, but rather immeasurably high above you, or at least above what you commonly take to be your ego.
† Emerson, in his essay Circles. Found here.
Nietzsche; Schopenhauer as Educator (1874)