The Stifled Soul

We all go through awakenings.  It doesn’t matter what kind it is, but each of us many times in our lives go through periods of time where we start to realize that something is changing within us.  The old way has become unbearable, and we need to lash out at the world to break free from the oppressive weight we’ve been carrying for so long.  In our desire for safety and security, we hold on tightly to the horror we know in hopes that we won’t be subjected to anything worse.  There is nothing more evil in the world than a soul that has been stifled by its own expectations.

We live in a world today where things like creativity and art and all the things that make life worth living have become sidenotes to practicality.  The world has become so efficient at spitting out product and forcing us into mass produced molds that we struggle to know the slightest bit about who we really are.  Millions of people spend lifetimes grinding away at a goal set by others that they never really wanted, all because we have been ingrained from birth with the values of industriousness, conscientiousness and a worshipful nature toward the almighty dollar.  It is a hollow existence.

You can’t teach this fact to anyone.  It isn’t something you can lay out on a chart or graph, nor is it something you can measure with a ruler or microscope or beaker.  No one can walk up to you and point to the sky and tell you about it.  It can’t be seen, it can’t be heard, and it can’t be given.  It is something that must be experienced.  Whether through your own life experiences, or by becoming inspired by the life experiences of others, you must live it to truly understand it.

I am just beginning to emerge from the long sleep of the stifled soul.  My life has been routine and rules and following the crowd, always afraid to be singled out and embarrassed.  I am an introvert, always looking inward and afraid of what others might see.  But there is a part of me that longs for the freedom to be whatever it is that I am without any reservation whatsoever.  After nearly forty years of life, I find myself yearning to start living.

We were all taught the phrase “carpe diem”, but most of us never really know what that means.  “Seize the day” sounds amazing when you just say it like that, but when we actually consider what we have to do in the real world to live that philosophy out, most of us shrink back in terror at the awful risk and responsibility and horrible freedom implicit in that simple phrase.  It is the essence of working without a net, a single mistake thrashing you against the rocky shore to be crushed to bits that you ever dared to dream in the first place.

How many years do we waste waiting for opportunity to come knocking at the door?  How many opportunities are just out of sight, waiting for us to take that single step forward to find it?  If we could look back on our lives and see all the times we passed right by them, how much regret would weigh down our hearts?  Even the most conservative guess scares me down to the bottom of my soul.

Some figure this out early in their lives and go on to do amazing things for both themselves and the world around them.  They find a way to become unfettered by the expectations of others and strike out on their own, blazing a trail for others to follow.  Many burn bright and fast, flaring out in a blinding flash, but the shortness of their time is balanced by the brightness of their light.  The truly lucky ones get a lifetime as a shining beacon in the darkness the world tries to impose on us.

For others, such as myself, it takes a lifetime just to get to where we even want to find a spark, but finally something changes within and we can’t simply sit in the darkness any longer.  Our souls yearn to see, to be uncluttered by shade and twilight and to view the clear, beautiful vista that the dawn brings.  And we imagine it to be all the sweeter after living in the dark for so long.

Will this spark last, or will it be drowned out by the darkness of doubt?  The peril of predictability?  The yearning for a safe harbor?  Or will it flare up into a raging fire to be viewed with awe in its full glory?  Can it be a guiding light that not only saves my own soul, but that of others around me?  I cannot say, but I view the world through this new dawn choosing to believe it isn’t the last one.

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