I graduated college with two degrees, one in English and one in biology, and three different graduate programs/schools to choose from. Looking back it’s easy enough to see that I was confused about what direction I wanted to follow, but instead of looking inward for the answers, I did what I was used to doing. I looked outward. I chose prestige. I accepted the PhD track program in molecular biology and biochemistry at the ivy league school, telling myself as I did so that I could go anywhere (5-7 years later) with that degree beside my name. I lasted a year, during which I was mostly miserable.
Dropping out of that program was one of the hardest things I had ever done. I felt I had failed myself and my family. I had yet to fully realize I was trying to live someone else’s dream. Of course, if I knew what I know now I would not have gone. I would have heeded the voice of spirit that would often startle me from my dreams by shouting my name, “Alethea,” in my ear. Ah, that call to Truth ignored!
Some of us choose detours full of bumps and hurdles before we finally start walking our true paths. Ask a five year old what she wants to be when she grows up, and pay attention. It’s likely she’ll answer from her soul’s truth – that place inside of her that still knows without the trappings of ego or other people’s truths, why she came into this life. When I was five I knew without a shadow of a doubt I was here to be a writer, a mom and do something bigger than myself to help the world. But, I held tightly to two of those truths, afraid to follow their songs.
Today, I was reminded, as I often am these days, how important it is to listen to my heart’s song. I spent the morning talking about poetry and writing erasure poems with my daughter’s third grade class. Time flew, and I left with more energy, so much more, than I awoke with. This is what happens when we follow our soul’s truth. We feel energized and alive. We feel wonderful.
Each time I write a piece of prose or a poem with the lyrics of my heart, my being sings with the energy that I have allowed to flow. A few years ago, when I went to graduate school again, this time for writing, I experienced this sensation, which I also call “home,” nearly every moment of each day. I never doubted I was where I belonged. For my teaching practicum I followed the internal tug drawing me to the state’s prison for women, and was rewarded by the sensation of walking on air almost every time I would pass through its doors to return home. Not only was I teaching what I loved, I was helping women like me. Women who had lost their voices by going down the wrong path.
Even though it took me many years to follow my heart song, I feel fortunate and grateful each day that I have found my path of Truth. The trappings of the ego, of guilt, and of fear, can be strong and over-powering. It can take great courage to break free from their holds. Although I take pleasure out of my own children’s successes in life that are ego-based, I desire above all else for them to find and follow their own heart songs.
If you have not yet followed your own path of truth, take a moment to go back to that five year old self still inside you. Ask her what makes her sing. If you end your days depleted and cranky, you are probably on a detour. In contrast, if most of your days are filled with energy and light, you are listening to the lyrics of your heart song. When you do this, you nurture yourself and the universe. You are living your soul’s purpose.