I’m writing this as I find myself standing on a precipice. This is not an uncommon occurrence for me. I often find myself taking leaps of faith, though in truth I have spent a fair amount of time avoiding those leaps until they become inevitable, more like falling or being pushed. I last found myself in this position two years ago, having left Los Angeles in the wake of a painful breakup. As I drove north, pushed by the need to put distance between myself and that pain, I also felt myself pulled, called by a desire to deepen and grow. I moved to the Pacific Northwest because I had a dream calling me to Puget Sound, and an intuition that I would find a teacher who would help me grow my spirit and soul.
Within a week of moving to Tacoma, WA, a friend introduced me to that teacher. I began a year long program of psychic and spiritual development, an endeavor that made me wonder at times whether I was insane and yet felt deeply nourishing. During that year of learning and growth, I had crazy, trippy synchronicities, many frustrations and disappointments, and affirmation and validation. More than anything, I learned to root myself in my own unique essence, the self that is a true expression of all that is sacred and holy, in my own unique human form. Imperfect, sometimes broken, yet always becoming, reaching for more, growing into the possibility of my purpose and potential. I learned to trust that inner self, and the greater Spirit of which I am but one expression- the Spirit that lives, moves, and speaks through me. I left LA because I felt that I had no choice, but I know too that something, someone was choosing me. A someone that is both me and yet bigger than me.
“With the drawing of this love and the voice of this calling
We shall not cease from exploration
But the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”
These lines, from TS Eliot’s The Four Quartets, have guided me for many years, so much so that I have them tattooed on my body. Every time I am pushed to take a leap, to explore beyond the boundaries of my own comfort zone, I find myself circling back around to some part of myself that I have forgotten, neglected, or misunderstood, and seeing it again with fresh eyes and experience. I am always coming home again and again, and knowing it for the first time.
Two years ago, as I made my way north, I stopped in Klamath Falls, OR, near Crater Lake, for a few nights. I had seen an advertisement for a zipline course, and, though I am very, very afraid of heights, in fact because I am afraid of heights, knew I had to do it. As I stood on the first platform, high in a douglas fir tree on the side of a mountain looking over the treetops in the valley, I peeled myself off the trunk of the tree, which I had been hugging for dear life despite all the harnesses and ropes I was attached to. Pushing past the many fears going through my head, I stood at the edge of the platform, closed my eyes, and let go of the ground beneath my feet. As I flew through the air, I leaned back into my harness, took a few deep breaths as I relaxed into it, and opened my eyes to view the wide expanse of forest beneath me. I repeated this procedure on the next platform, and the one after, and it got a little easier each time. I moved around the platforms more freely and began to enjoy zipping through the air with greater abandon.
One of the guides said later, when I shared my trick of closing my eyes and jumping, “No, don’t do that! You need to be able to see the trees, to turn to the side in case any stray branches come toward you. We keep the way clear,but you never know.” I understood his point. I’m sure he was right, but I knew I was right too. I did what I had to do to get myself off the platform and into the air, and I’m grateful to my body for knowing what I needed.
I’ve been making plans for the better part of a year to move to New York City, having felt for some time that I was being drawn there and that my time in Tacoma was only temporary. But the plans haven’t been concrete. I’ve been waiting for all the pieces to fall into place, for a smooth transition to present itself to me, to have lots of money in the bank, or the ideal house to move into. I’ve been waiting for it to feel easy. But of course, it never is. I had been planning for a move in the fall, but, not feeling ready, I was tempted to push it off to the next year. But in September, I hear that voice inside me say, “it’s time. You need to go now. Do what you need to do, but be gone by the end of October.” I’ve learned by now that if I don’t want to be pushed off a cliff, I’d better listen to that nudge and choose to jump, and trust.
As I pack up to leave Tacoma, called by that something that is both me and yet bigger than me, I find myself again in that liminal space, the jumping off point, wanting to fly, yet terrified of falling. I have a dream of creating spiritual community, but I don’t know exactly how it’s going to happen. I have friends who share my values and ideals, and a place to move to, but I don’t yet have a job. I’ll be increasing my cost of living, and potentially decreasing my pay. My car, though it is in good working order, has seen better days, and I worry that the drive cross country will put it over the edge. But I know that every time I have followed the call of my own soul, I have always been provided for. The right job comes through at the right time, I meet the right people in the right place… I know this. But it’s easy to get complacent, to want to keep my feet firmly on the ground, to forget that I know how to fly.
There’s a famous quote from Paolo Coelho’s The Alchemist: “To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only real obligation. All things are one. When you want something; all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” Now look, I know that it’s not as simple as wanting something. There’s lots of things I want that don’t come to fruition. But I still believe in the essential truth of what he’s saying here. Because the truth is, when I listen and attend to the voice of my own soul, when I nourish and cultivate it, it reveals to me my deepest desire. When I trust and affirm that desire, feed and water it with joy and love, it begins to grow. And when I take the steps of faith that it asks of me to see it come to fruition, magical things happen. I know this is true, because this has happened to me, time and time again.
It isn’t always easy to listen to that call of the soul, the voice of our deepest desire. It often feels as though the world I live in, not to mention the thoughts and fears in my own head, are plotting against it. To create a space for my deepest, truest self to grow and thrive requires determination and commitment. It requires practices of quieting all the voices in my head, learning to discern what is true and what is false. It asks me to give up everything I think I am, all the parts of myself I have constructed to get others to love me and approve of me, or to maintain stability and consistency, or power over what terrifies me, in order to come home to something more essential, more eternal, more me. To an outsider, it can look like madness. But it is like the man in the biblical parable of the pearl of great price, who sells everything he has in order to buy that pearl. He knows it’s worth it, even if nobody else does.
In a world that is being driven mad by fear and rage and destruction, I believe what we need, what we have always needed, is people who know who they really are. People who are listening to the call of their own souls, trusting their own inner vision, nurturing that vision with joy and love, allowing it to be purified and refined, giving themselves permission to follow it. I see us all like a thousand beautiful flowers growing on a hillside, blooming with love and desire and abandon. This is one of my deepest desires, and why I build spiritual community and do the one on one support work I do. My hope and prayer is that we can all learn to take the leaps of faith needed to set ourselves free.