Once the soul awakens, wrote the poet John O’Donohue, the search begins and you can never go back.
From then on, he writes, “you are inflamed with a special longing that will never again let you linger in the lowlands of complacency and partial fulfillment.”
My awakening began about 12 years ago when I broke down, left my normal life, and moved to a farm in the country with some dogs and a bunch of donkeys and sheep.
I decided to live, not wither away, I got help, and met Maria.
My move would have been glorious except for the fact it was conceived in madness and fear. It turned out to be glorious because the experience woke me up.
I believe that the only men I know who are truly awake were either tortured as children or humiliated as adults. I qualified on both counts.
Whatever my path, whatever the nature of each day, whatever riddles, disappointments, and challenges I had to face to stay alive, the secret of my life somehow always has to do with the awakening: the liberation of a soul and heart that had been asleep for longer than I could remember.
I entered a different phase of life.
There were the usual struggles, but there was also a satisfaction that lingered and is with me still, it exists somewhere between peace and joy.
I awoke to a need to help Mother Earth rather than fret about her.
I awoke to the joy and meaning of doing good, a latent part of me that was desperate to come out.
I awoke to the selflessness required to love another human being.
I awoke to the need to take care of myself.
I awoke to facing up to the anger and terror that lived inside of me and needed to be both acknowledged and faced.
I awoke to the need to not argue about my life, but to take responsibility for living it.
I awoke to the need of the writer inside of me to explore what is happening in our country beyond the peaceful boundaries of my farm.
I awoke to the need for respecting life and celebrating it, to never speak poorly of my life or complain about it.
“Like that sponge,” wrote Mark Nepo in the Book Of Awakening, “our very heart begs to unfold in the waters of our experience, and like a little fish, the soul is a tiny thing that brings us peace and joy when we let it swim.”
I found that life and its promise made little sense to me until I took my heart in hand and walked gently into the life I was living and wanted to live.