Often when imagination twists the commonplace into a slightly new form, suddenly we see soul where formerly it was hidden. –Thomas Moore, Care of the Soul : A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life
So you’re living your life, walking through your days, and you’re happy. Mostly. Things are going well. You have enough to eat, a home to live in, friends and family you love, a good job, and plenty of money for the things you need and for the things you want. Things are… fine. Sure, your life took a few turns since you were a kid that you didn’t expect, but overall, it’s just as good of a life as anyone you know. You’re doing pretty well. You’re doing well. Aren’t you?
This is how it is for me. Things are awesome when I count my many blessings. I have friends and family and husband and children I love beyond words. I have interesting times and good fortune. I am happy with my many blessings. I am happy.
But, even with all the blessings, life can still sometimes feel empty and colorless. You can feel numb. We expect true happiness to flow in once we have a good house, material things, the right church, travel, or the optimal schedule. But, as it turns out, all of this success can feel hollow and confusing when it’s not infused with soul.
Money is a wonderful thing, but when it’s the centering force in our lives, it becomes superficial. A house with a lot of square footage in just the right neighborhood is what we dreamt of all our lives… but when we find ourselves slugging it out to pay the mortgage, worrying about the upkeep, and feeling as though everything needs to be renovated from top to bottom until we can rest, the house can become a terrible burden instead of a home. Without soul, the material items, the success, the importance of title and address and bank balance can corrupt us and make us sick.
I’ve felt a restlessness I couldn’t explain. I knew it had something to do with the house, the stuff, the excessive activities, the busy schedule. All of this felt empty. I thought if I cut these things loose, simplifying my life as much as possible, I would find relief from the restlessness. I would find freedom.
I took a six-month sabbatical with my family in Belize. I lived with a few things in a suitcase in houses that didn’t belong to me. I paid very little in rent and spent very little on food and other “stuff.” I pared my activities down to working, writing, preparing simple meals, and spending time with my family. I only did what I wanted to do. The obligations from back home dropped away like the sunset into the sea.
But I still felt restless, worried, and empty while in Belize. Even in paradise, my head wouldn’t leave my head alone. I flew home after the six months were up and wondered why I didn’t feel better. I’d taken my travel break from regular life, so I should have felt refreshed, right? Instead, after my stint in the simple world of Belize, I felt more disillusioned than ever by the rat race back home. I’d had time to focus on my writing and time to discern what it was I wanted out of my life, and yet I felt more unsettled than ever.
The reason, the fix, the cure? I need to focus more on soul. I’m only beginning to understand this now.
Breaking out of regular life was an important step toward enlightenment. Once I ripped off the bandages holding the normal life together, all the rawness underneath became apparent. And, once the rawness was exposed, there’s no going back to the comfort of the bandages. It’s time now to heal.
Through imagination, I’ll be able to find the best life possible for me.
Through imagination, we can all find the best in us.
Take your commonplace and make it better. Drench your life in soul-filled activities. Pour soul into what you already do, the relationships you already have. Soak everything you can in soul–drop everything else. Uncover the soul in life and soon you’ll be kissing the clouds instead of lying prostrate on the ground.