Some of us remember the days when individuals "ran away" to parts unknown free of jobs, commitments, and all other encumbrances that might get in the way. The reasoning behind this behavior? To find oneself.
While I don't believe that abandoning responsibility to discover one's true self is necessary, I do agree with Rushdie that it is critical to writing with authenticity. Think of the pre-teens with the mature voices singing about the pangs and heartache of love. They know nothing about the subject, and it shows in their interpretation or lack thereof. Experience is a great teacher, and pain brings out our truest being. While not fun, we find out what is in our core being, we learn the qualities and characteristics that make us who we are.
I don't suggest a would-be writer inflict pain just to learn about himself. However, give yourself time to grow. Look to what you've already experienced and try to step outside yourself to take a good look at how you responded, the way you grew, the manner in which you matured. Observe others. Become an acute observer of human behavior. Writers must learn to be mindful of the various ways individuals react to similar situations.
So, your assignment, should you choose to accept it? Get to know yourself.