For most of us, life is so full of activities, duties and chores that we have very little time left over to listen to the quiet voice of our soul.
I’ve come to think of the soul voice as my inner guide, a compass, the trustworthy captain of my ship. In my experience this voice is usually quiet and very often the loud voices of society, the pressures of what we think we ought to do and be mean we ignore our soul’s voice. Other times we mistake it for fear.
I like to travel to new places and each time I set out on a journey I get butterflies. I recently met someone at a train station who was so afraid of leaving the country they avoided travel abroad altogether. It seems this is not uncommon and this week I have spoken to two friends who also know people who have avoided leaving home for years due to fear of what might happen.
My fellow traveller at the train station labelled the feeling fear, whereas I labelled it ‘butterflies’ and quite enjoy it. I thought back to the first time I left home to live abroad at the age of 19. I was on the ferry to France and a furious storm blew up. Everyone was frightened and I imagined that I might never arrive at the ancient port of St Malo and instead die at sea. I even imagined the headlines the next day in the UK Newspapers: British Student Dies in Storm at Sea. Then I had another thought: at least I would die courageously and not look back and wonder at the age of 80, “what if?”
It’s a bit like this with everything new. The first time we try something new it is accompanied by fear, then the next time is easier until the nerves become our friendly compass and we know an exciting adventure is in store if we follow our soul’s voice.
Clearly I didn’t go down with the ship! The year I spent at university in France is one of my most treasured memories. I was afraid of leaving home, afraid my French wasn’t good enough, afraid I would fail the exams and nobody would understand a word I said. But there was another feeling that danced with that fear, an imagined world I had yet to discover – a world where people take lunch seriously and respect food and alcohol in a way I’d never experienced in the UK, a world where there is a queue for baguettes in the morning and everywhere smells of freshly baked bread before 9am, a world that fed my intellect and nourished my soul. It was my soul that led me to study literature in France and although I was scared on the boat as the waves crashed over the deck, I discovered within myself the spirit of the adventurer.
So I asked the stranger on the train platform: “does the fear make you feel small or do you feel a sense of expansion?”
Fear is a feeling similar to excitement and we sometimes have difficulty distinguishing the voice of fear from excitement at the possibility of a new adventure.
Fear is usually accompanied by a physical feeling and can be felt anywhere in the body – very often in the gut or the heart. But wherever it is felt, it can have a debilitating and paralysing effect and rather than explore it and work out whether it is excitement at the prospect of a new adventure or our intuition barking at us to walk away, we shut down.
I believe that the soul’s voice, our intuitive compass navigates us with this combination of fear/excitement. Fear is just a word. The feeling is real. Before I label the feeling as fear, I try to sense whether it is creating an ‘expansive’ feeling or making me ‘contract’ and feel trapped or small, or wanting to run and hide. If there is an expansive feeling accompanying the fear, I label it ‘excitement’ and go for it.
If I’m not certain, I wait, watch and listen to my soul’s signals. This dance of the soul between fear and desire is a beautiful one. We all like black and white as it makes life more comfortable. There are no guarantees. When the soul wants to go on a journey, it is the journey that matters, not the destination. Leaving the port and holding the combination of fear and excitement gently within us is the soul in action. I try to trust my soul’s voice to guide me as I travel through life.
Soul is the journey
Soft present steps
The way is coloured
In shadow and light
Categories: Creative Writing