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Image from John Silvers

“The fact that a man who goes his own way ends in ruin means nothing … He must obey his own law, as if it were a daemon whispering to him of new and wonderful paths … There are not a few who are called awake by the summons of the voice, whereupon they are at once set apart from the others, feeling themselves confronted with a problem about which the others know nothing. In most cases it is impossible to explain to the others what has happened, for any understanding is walled off by impenetrable prejudices. “You are no different from anybody else,” they will chorus or, “there’s no such thing,” and even if there is such a thing, it is immediately branded as “morbid”…He is at once set apart and isolated, as he has resolved to obey the law that commands him from within. “His own law!” everybody will cry. But he knows better: it is the law…The only meaningful life is a life that strives for the individual realization — absolute and unconditional — of its own particular law … To the extent that a man is untrue to the law of his being … he has failed to realize his own life’s meaning.”

— C.G. Jung

Practical considerations versus creative longing was a thing in my family. I saw both sides of that argument as a child and made my decision early. Although there was confusion and struggle, at least it was my confusion and struggle not someone else’s.

It’s strange how, when I considered giving up, just the right help came in just the right way. It made all the difference. It’s a bit mysterious how that happens. I’ve noticed that when you’re on your true path miracles can happen. Of course, the opposite is true when you’re on the wrong path. I’ve had that happen too, more than once.

Everybody wants to have a real life. Everyone is sad when they can’t achieve it. There is something in us, something unique, that wants to get into the world. It’s not obvious how that’s going to happen when we’re young. There are a myriad of obstacles and misleading temptations that we don’t know about when we’re young. I fell victim to more than a few of those traps as I tried to find my way. I extricated myself from one snare after another, and frankly I’m not sure my days of bad judgement are over, even in my dotage, but I’ve learned to trust in serendipity. The Universe keeps giving unexpected gifts, we just have to stay alert.

That personal voice inside you is subtle. You have to listen for it and to do that you have to get quiet. You will need to disregard the voices of “society.” The opinions of others, positive or negative, whether they come from friends or strangers, must be questioned.

The French expression “coup de foudre” — literally, a lightning strike — refers to something that happens out of the blue and can set you on a completely different path, falling in love for instance. You can fall in love with the right work as well as with the right person. That’s an extremely fortuitous situation, regardless of worldly success. That means you have put yourself in a position to have the right energies flowing through your life. Your soul will thank you. If those things are missing from your life you may find it impossible to find your way.

Everyone’s solution to this conundrum is unique, which is why you have to keep your quest alive. Live the questions, as Rilke said. Invisible forces and connections are at work that affect every part of the matrix. We’re not as separate as we think. The goal is not ease of living or fame, it’s living out the unique energies we are given. The world needs those energies, or you wouldn’t exist.

Written by

I occasionally write fiction and also about creativity, loving, language learning and travel. I’m a longtime painter and reader.

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