A soul’s true calling; the hearing, the listening, the anwering.

Like countless others, in fact, probably all of us, I often ask myself about the calling of my soul. I do not ask what this calling might be; I feel blessed in not ever having to question the call’s nature, but rather the way in which I do and should answer. It cannot be a thing denied that I have spent countless hours, accumulating no doubt in years, listening to my soul’s endless cries to be expressed, but how do I answer? It is that question which may keep me awake at night, or pensive during daylight hours. Why, I ask myself, if I am blessed with the insight to understand the most innate call of my being, do I immerse myself in endless pursuits of confusion, chasing the ghosts of chaos and submerging my creativity into pools of poisoned ink? Why, when I could be taking up the challenge set by my inner voice, charging forth with every ounce of divine energy gifted me by the universe, do I indulge in a lethargic, listless state of soul? Passive in its undertakings and innately inert.

To hear the true call assigned to each of us but to put it to the side is tragic and the true meaning of waste, as we follow fruitless paths; wasted avenues; consuming the empty calories of the soul. We chase our tails in some endless rush to fill our lives with nothingness, complaining at the end of the day that there is not enough time. It seems to me that we create our own barriers, hurdles which need not be there in the first place, but which we must leap across each day, rendering ourselves exhausted and depleted in more ways than one.  We would love to paint; to philosophise; to write, but we don’t have the time after the endless chores of the day. It feels almost as if expending our time and energy on the soul’s desires is a guilty pleasure. Of course, we live in a society where we have to make a living; we need to pay rent, bills; it becomes harder and harder to meet financial demands. This is not a new concept, of course. But, how many people who spend their days toiling in order to perpetuate the enormous wealth of some corporation or other, while just managing to maintain their own, feel satisfied when they lay down to sleep? That is, satisfied to the very core of their being?

I ask myself why I never became a ballerina, a pianist, a novelist. Of course, there’s still time. But of all the potential paths of procrastination, why are the truly important things the first on the list? I once read that there is none so attractive as the person who is “on their path”. Have you ever looked at someone who seems to have it all and felt sharply envious, and berated yourself for being so? The girl who followed a career in her beloved dance and who draws crowds to watch as she elegantly exhibits to the  universe her given talent; the musician who inspires countless listeners with their melodies; the writer who travels to the most exalting places in the world and makes a living from writing about his experiences. It seems to us that these people’s lives flow in an endless river of good fortune, gifts bestowed upon them from a unseen benefactor. Luck. Opportunities that were perhaps never afforded to us. And while it is true that release from financial restraints does certainly lend itself more to freedom, this does not automatically mean that this freedom is used in pursuit of our dreams. What is it about that person that is following their true path that makes them different from us? If not opportunity, is it confidence? An inherent self belief; a true sense of identity and recognition of one’s worth? Is it perhaps recklessness, a lack of regard for the supposed structure of things? Maybe I know the answer to these questions and maybe not, and maybe it doesn’t matter in the slightest either way.

Having always believed that a life filled with drama was preventing me from following my own creative path, it was only recently that I was set free from this limiting belief. Far from being the cause of the neglect of my creativity, it was the symptom of it, the reason why I was wasting precious energy on emotional futility, languishing in bleak, barren mental landscapes. This too, I believe is probably the reason why many artists are prone to addiction. It is not a new concept that addiction and creativity are often synonymous, but why is this? Is it something to do with the fundamental nature of “the artist” or is it a manifestation of the pain experienced when creativity is being in any way stifled? Creativity is our life blood; we come from creation, and to create is, I believe, our most basic instinct. On a fundamental level, this could be the instinct to reproduce, but there is so much more to creation than this. With our every thought, we create a pathway for our future, a blueprint for who we are and what we may become, and with every action we create an imprint in our mind for the rest of our life, or lives; buddhists would call this karma. We can choose what to think, and how we allow our thoughts to manifest. Our minds are filled with all kinds of thoughts, ambitions and desires, and with our actions we demonstrate that which we choose to embrace. This is our choice. Every word we speak or action we take as a manifestation of our thoughts is our creation.

That is really all any of us can do. If you are blessed enough to hear the call of your soul, do more than just hear it. Listen to it. 

Answer it.

From desperation to inspiration and back.

Today was a fairly typical day off for me, not in the things that I did necessarily, but in the way that my mind flitted between states of apathy and motivation, excitement and sadness, emptiness and fulfillment. I suspect I am not alone in swinging between these frames of mind, balancing precariously on the edges of this emotional windmill. I am not describing a bi-polar condition, nor any state of mania, just the normal routes by which we hover above an ever changing cognitive landscape.

First, I awoke hungover, undernourished by sleep and finding myself unable to face the first appointment of the morning -cognitive behavioural therapy. With the grim realisation that the previous night’s poisoning of my body would prevent the detoxification of my mind today came the self loathing that so often accompanies these hungover states, especially when you acknowledge your own self destructiveness. The hours that followed were spent trying to fall back to sleep, driven by a desire to hide from the day that I knew I could not now face with any strength or enthusiasm. I was pretty much prepared to write it off from the outset.  I nursed this mental state of anger towards myself until I had a text from my dearest friend, expressing almost the same experience and the same sentiments. Lethargy, self reproach, a sense of being lost bordering on despair. However, unlike my unforgiving attitude to myself, my response to her was compassionate and forgiving, urging her to view her feelings as temporary, transient, evanescent. Because, this is exactly the truth of the matter; no matter how strong these feelings of negativity, they don’t last.  These feelings are so strongly interconnected with our perceptions of ourselves and our place in the world, our sense of belonging, duty and worth; we are constantly in a state of flux. Of course, some people are more stable than others. There are those that seem consistent, unchanging, traits perhaps perceived as those of a “dependable” or “reliable” person. But for those of us that flit in and out of these worlds, dancing between the extremes, each day can be a whirlwind of colour and darkness, bleak desert and lush mountainside, raging sea and placid pool.

I went in to a new cafe and started chatting to the owners…potential opportunities discussed, giving  a talk on healthy eating, singing live one evening, guided meditation groups. I love the way that these things just seem to rain down upon you from nowhere. The point is, I left feeling inspired, for the first time that day. Then out of the blue I had a phone call from somebody who had found my business card, this time with an opportunity to get involved in an event, several events offering reflexology and nutritional advice. The synchronicity of the two events are so typical of the way things can go for me generally, the wind of opportunity whips me in an rapidly ascending spiral, a helix of hope catapulting me towards a horizon of health, happiness and harmony. Towards the “new” to which I am certainly hooked.

Hunger sets in, and I am starting to lose my foothold within this helix, I am beginning to lose my grip.  I know this experience well enough so I seek out (slow releasing) sugar. My recent achievements, however theoretical and potential, have created within me the desire to switch the sugary coffee to a healthy juice. These are the ways in which the spiral continues to propel us upwards, in exactly the same way that a feeling of failure might drive us towards the alleged comfort of junk food and alcohol. As the afternoon moves on, the inspiration will, I have no doubt, begin to wane, unless something occurs to sustain or drive it anew. I may not fall back into despair today, but I will be back there at some point; this is my nature and I accept it. Like many people, I cannot be inspired all of the time. But I can try to administer to myself the same forgiveness, tolerance, patience and acceptance that I would eagerly offer to friends, even strangers, dealing with the same issues.

Is inspiration even useful if it is so short lived, offering perhaps an even bleaker perspective when it has abandoned us once more? Arguably not.  An old friend of mine once became a Buddhist monk, and I distinctly remember him telling me that there were two types of people that chose that life; those that arrived through desperation, and those that arrived through inspiration, and that without doubt, the latter candidate was the quickest to leave and move on. In fact, the Buddhist idea of non attachment is significant here. Both conditions are perhaps as illusionary as each other, it is attachment to either state which causes us unhappiness.  While one is more likely to invigorate and inflame us, its loss leaves us deflated, depleted and hollow. Forsaken. Inspiration is of course a useful tool, but even here, the distinction between the two is unclear. I only ever write songs when I am feeling down and desperate, like many other artists, my creativity comes from a dark, lonely place, thus blurring the worlds between desperation and inspiration. They are really mirror images of the same thing. Mirrors of us, as the complex creatures that we are. The problem arises when we become attached to either idea.

Of course we would generally have a preference towards insight and illumination over gloom and hopelessness, but one can certainly trigger the other. The best thing we can do is to accept that inspiration is a fickle lover, she blesses us with her kiss but then takes flight and in our quest to follow her, we find ourselves lost in a dark cave of cold silence. It is at this point that we should perhaps take comfort in knowing that if we are are prepared to listen to the silence, we will hear that bird’s song again, and if we are wise enough to follow, she will lead us into the light once more. For a while.