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Painting by Akseli Gallen-Kallela

“A true vocation requires shedding anything that would impede or obscure the call. A true pilgrimage requires letting go of the very things most people try to hold onto. In seeking after what the soul desires we become pilgrims with no home but the path the soul would have us follow. As the old proverb says, “Before you begin the journey, you own the journey. Once you have begun, the journey owns you.” After all, what good is a dream that doesn’t test the mettle of the dreamer? What good is a path that doesn’t carry us to the edge of our capacity and then beyond that place? A true calling involves a great exposure before it can become a genuine refuge.”
- Michael Meade

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“I should advise you to put it all down as beautifully as you can — in some beautifully bound book…When these things are in some precious book you can go to the book & turn over the pages & for you it will be your church — your cathedral — the silent places of your spirit where you will find renewal. If anyone tells you that it is morbid or neurotic and you listen to them — then you will lose your soul — for that book is your soul.”— C. G. Jung

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“We have to have permission to dream, to hope. To place both our successes and catastrophic failures in perspective. We have to dream our futures as clearly as, when children, we saw ourselves as astronauts or models or dads or cowboys. We have to re-connect with the river of energy flowing within us. This last is so important: as we run out of energy, we run out of hope. Double your energy and your optimism, sexuality, intellectual agility and resilience increase hugely.”
— Steve Barnes

Like most children I dreamed big dreams, but I never was able to give up dreaming as an adult. For some reason, I wanted to live in dreams. I haven’t changed. Writing, making art , marrying the woman I loved, living in foreign climes, reading what I read, learning what I learn, my lifelong search for “home” — it all comes down to a journey of soul. I try to understand the practical side of life, but my imagination always interferes and turns it into my dream. Regardless of my circumstances, it always turns into a story something in myself needs to be telling.

Who is listening? Me. I’m listening to the same song I’ve always been hearing.

Frankly, this story looked pretty strange to my parents when I was young. I was accused of being a strange child, but from my present perspective I see how they chased their own dreams, different though they were. I wish I could be more practical minded but it seems to be beyond my capabilities.

Circumstances indulged me. I never starved or became homeless, and I had a wealth of adventures, ignoring some scathing criticism along the way.

Advice from someone who hasn’t made a fortune is considered pretty worthless in our culture, but if I were to advise a young person I would emphasize a focus on meaning and beauty, whatever that looks like to you. Actually in middle age I was able to make good money from my feeling for beauty in old houses, turning them into soulful homes for those who could appreciate them. Still, the money was icing on the cake. My mission was giving a new and beautiful life to old and disrespected structures. You would not be wrong if you think I was renovating myself by proxy.

We all have depths in us we don’t suspect. We all involve ourselves in pursuits that call forth a larger, more substantial self. That’s why we’re here, I think. If we fail to engage our depths we lose our way, we wander aimlessly, we wonder why we live.

Because cultural conditioning lays down so many levels in our minds, it’s not easy to discover who we really are and what we really want and need to do. I recommend developing an awareness and a fidelity to that inner song that we all have inside us.

There will be opposition. There will be criticism. Nobody can feel your mission for you. You have to listen to your own heart, as expressed through your body and mind. You have to take your attention off the external world to some extent. The chatter about how to be a “success”, whatever that is, will have to be tuned out.

Any artist already knows this. You want to create beauty because your soul requires it. You can’t live without it. The fact that most people in our society just want to survive or look good to the world is of no consequence. We have an obligation to contribute the most meaning to the world possible, and we can’t do that if we can’t be faithful to ourselves.

Your life is your soulbook.

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