Archive for March, 2015

Story, ego, soul

Every person’s life tells a story, and every person has his or her story about life. One of my stories has been the choice between soul and ego. After years of believing that you picked one or the other, I’ve concluded they are both integral parts of human life. Just as the brain, lungs and heart have separate functions in a body, so too do the soul and ego. As such, these two facets have distinct priorities and which one we give our allegiance to creates a different life focus. For example, egos search for goals, definitives, comfort, winning, accomplishments, and end results. While souls seek authenticity, creativity, expression, depth, experiences, growth, journeys, and expansion. Because of their potential contrasts, sometimes our souls and egos divide, causing a splintering that is similar to a business meeting where all in attendance have separate agendas. Human life is full of paradox, as exemplified in breathing, the very thing that keeps us alive. For we can not breathe in without breathing out and vice versa. There is nothing better about in or out, they are equal in their opposites. Embracing this, and its implications, may be a giant step to wholeness. 

I recently had a portrait photo session with a talented photographer who had taken one of my “Calling Council” workshops (6 weeks of modern shamanic journeys). I note the latter, because she wanted the portrait to show that side of me—the teacher, my ancient self, and dare I say my soul. I brought with me a selection of feathers and skulls that touch and open my heart. As of now, I have seen only two of the  photos, both amazing—one especially unique (see below). In this one image I can visibly see the presence and strength that I had otherwise only felt. At the same time, it also shows me that a photo is simply an image of a moment in time. Our lives are a string of ongoing moments—some powerful, some weak and many more in between. While a photo says more than a thousand words, it is still only a morsel of the person or situation. We all have endless depths below what can be seen on the surface. It is our responsibility to swim in those depths and learn what makes up ‘us’ regardless of whether it touches the outside world or is understood by anyone else. It is wise to remember that all others have the same expanse below what we see or understand about them, as well.

I took an online class on branding to boost my writing, public speaking and workshops. This would not normally be my cup of tea, yet I respect the teacher and decided to go for it based on that. Creating a brand had previously felt artificial. However, this class, in addition to the photo session, made me realize we are always projecting an image. To do so mindfully is actually more authentic than simply letting chance create it. While it is also true that the image is just a fraction of who I am as a whole, I’d like it to be a representation of the place where my inner and outer worlds intersect. Being clear about our presentation to the world does not equal control over how other’s see us, nor is that of any significance to our soul. Egos want to be seen in a specific way, happy, successful, beautiful. While souls want to experience the happiness, success and beauty. Being true to ourselves, sincerely, compassionately, creatively, is doing our part. The rest is out of our hands. In the end, we only have our own heart to answer to.  

A place both my soul and personality simultaneously ignite is listening to music—especially live. Sometimes it’s popular musicians with big names, more often it’s people who just love music. They don’t neccesarily make a living from it or gather fans, but to these people not making music is a kind of death. I was recently at a show with a variety of performers each with a different sound. The one similarity among them was that they exposed their souls with their music. It’s been said, “Perhaps the best mark of personal heroism is not astounding courage or accomplishments, but authentic self-expression…” While, these locals weaved soul in to each note and lyric, some big musicians miss depth in their performances simply because performing regularly alleviates the vulnerability that often exposes souls. 

What is your story; meaning what are your beliefs, assumptions, expectations, desires, memories, wants, relationships, friends, childhood experiences, and how does it all fit together? What we tell ourselves and repeat aloud to others becomes our reality, becomes the glasses through which we see the world, defines our decisions, and becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Can you examine the stories you tell the world and yourself, discerning where there is truth and conversly falsity? Can you open to what your life is and the endless possibilities of what it could be? Like many valuable exercises, this will be ongoing. In part because we miss things the first, or even 100th, time around. But also because we change constantly. I’d like to mention one caveat that I am quite familiar with, which is the desire to bypass the parts we don’t like within the picture. There is a cultural ideal of seeing only the positive or looking at things from a spiritual paradigm. While that can be admirable, this method often overlooks angles that are dictating fundamental life experiences including our emotional needs. In a world of pain, this positive or spiritual bypass is a constant temptation. Yet, it can be a detour on the path to genuine happiness and wholeness. In our efforts to leapfrog to something better, we can avoid a crucial part. The writer Parker Palmer puts it “I deny my inner darkness, giving it more power over me, or I project it onto other people, creating ‘enemies’ where none exist.” While there is no need to dwell on these facets, recognizing their existence opens us to releasing them. Palmer also says “Wholeness does not mean perfection: it means embracing brokenness as an integral part of life.” As I see it in this moment, happiness and wholeness are not about being all smiles and laughter. Instead, they are a deep-rooted sense of well-being that sustains through feelings of sadness, hurt, anger, joy, and circumstances that overwhelm. 

I’ve asked a lot of questions and here are a few more; what lights up both your soul and your ego? What unifies your emotions and your intellect? What nourishes your body and spirit? The answers may be the foundation of your story, your chance for joy and a life of wholeness and fulfillment. 

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My untold story

What is my untold story that lays inactive? Although unsure, I must sing my song not to have answers but because I love the music. Perhaps each of our life’s journey is about listening to our song for we must hear it to sing it. My heart goes blank. The silence knows that once the melody begins the dam will break. The destruction of a beaver’s safe home is at stake. And so my ears remain deaf but my soul keeps trickling with water and the soundtrack of my life begins with that drip, drip, drip.

My untold story has trees and horses and dogs and birds and wildlife and sunshine and rain and open space and drums and singing and creeks and living and travel and laughter and flow. 

The day the dam broke, my song is to the rhythm of love. My heart beats to this chorus and flows happily up to my tongue. But there are no words there. What is love that can be spoken but a sentimental falsity? This song is greater than any words in my vocabulary. Perhaps my song, my story, doesn’t have words at all but is simply the way I live my life—filled with the love of a breeze that creates a dance among the ferns. The joy of seeing a snake warming its body in the sun. Or my own feeling of happiness while in the embrace of sunshine. The song is the life that runs through me, the expression of which is endless, wordless and beautiful beyond measure. So much so that it overcomes the linear view through which I was searching. Songs have a structure that manifest the infinite. You are the song. Even with moments or years where all stands still from the dam, the music waits for us to participate by allowing the rhythm of life to play us. Are you ready? 

This sounds like bliss and is. But there also may come sadness and pain. This was, for me, from the death of what I thought was myself. We are here to experience life as a human. With that comes an ego or personality. We need not transcend this facet of ourselves, but it is perhaps wise to unite it with our song. Before that happens, however, there is often a death of the personality who thought s/he was in charge and in control—a destruction of the dam. Sometimes personalities identify with spirit, and become just more confusion. But alas, we have the power and the wisdom to find our rhythm. I plan to go forth within my song even when notes gets misplayed and don’t sound or feel beautiful. How about you?

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