By: Caitlin Prince, Guest Blogger
In this life, everyone has an opinion. Thanks to smart phones, social media, and screens everywhere, we are always plugged in to other people’s voices. There is almost no place left that is solitary, secluded, and private. Every moment of every day, there is an onslaught of advice, suggestions, invitations, and temptations clawing for your attention. Some of it is in the wise and concerned voices of your parents, some in the onerous weighty tones of religious instruction, and some are sexily marketed, coming at you from an infinite number of commercial companies seeking your business.
It’s really easy amidst all of this racket to miss the one most important thing: your own quiet, inner voice.
We’re not taught how to listen for our own voice. I’m not sure we’re even taught that it’s important. I didn’t really know how, which is why I ended up in someone else’s life. I was always an excellent student; I listened and learnt everything that was said around me. It’s why I got straight A’s in high school, graduated top of my class, had a job lined up before I’d even finished university. I was confidently humming my way through a successful life following all the wise advice and recommendations of our society, which gets you somewhere like this:
-I worked in health, an industry that will always be needed. That’s called job-security—Tick.
-I was married. That means that I’m loved, taken care of, and will be able to start a family—Tick.
-I owned my own home in a trendy up-and-coming suburb. That means financial security—Tick.
-I even had a disposable income which means regular holidays in exotic locations, ability to buy the latest gadgetry and eat out regularly in fabulous restaurants. We call that ‘lifestyle.’ — Tick.
There was, however, a teeny tiny glitch. Just a small matter and really quite easy to ignore: the yearning of my own looming heart.
Paulo Coelho writes that it’s better to know your own heart, because you can’t escape it. Which is sound advice, but only if we’re also taught how to know our hearts. It gets left off the syllabus in most schools, but throughout history, mystics of every culture and tradition have offered an answer on this one. They’ve encouraged us to step out into the Wild where there is stillness, silence and solitude. The mystics call us away from our world of school, work, family, and our roles and life as we know it. They ask to stop speaking, stop reading, and had it been around, they certainly would have told us to turn off Facebook. When everything and everyone else is muted, something else, something quieter can step into the foreground.
by Kate Gillet
For me, the Wild was a meditation retreat held in the middle of a Thai jungle. I was silent for seven days and was completely unprepared for what I would hear. My heart came out roaring, aching with everything that I hadn’t been listening to. It didn’t give a crap what the rest of the world had told me, it wanted something quite different from the best-recommended-life-achievements that I had signed up to. After the retreat, I left my marriage, my job, my house. I lost everything. My heart had been longing for something else and I hadn’t been listening.
Nobody can tell you what will make you happy, although everyone will try. Happiness isn’t the point anyway. Life is difficult, and no matter how carefully you plan, how wisely you invest, and how diligently you study, and work, ‘life is full of pain that blindsides you on some idle Tuesday’ (Thanks, Baz Luhrmann for The Sunscreen Song). At some point there will be a death that ruptures your psyche, an illness that cripples you, and/or a market crash that destroys your dream home. The best things in life may also appear out of absolutely nowhere. The perfect job will suddenly land in your lap or the love of your life will show up in completely the wrong outfit but be exactly what you need. Life is too big for you to plan. It will dislodge you, throw you around and bend you into shapes you never imagined.
Inside you, quietly still, is a place beyond language, that beats with something that is beyond blood. It has it’s own peculiar understanding of just what you need this lifetime. It holds all the infinite secrets of the universe and all the secrets of you, which is, as it turns out, exactly the same thing. It is the only place big enough to hold all the wonder and all the suffering of this fragile existence. Your heart is the only place sensitive enough, wise enough, and spontaneous enough to ride the ceaseless ups and downs of this surprising life.
Nothing then can be more important than learning how to unplug, turn off, tune out, and wander down that winding path into your very own quiet.
Life isn’t a flat-packed piece of furniture with mandatory step-by-step construction steps and a set outcome that defines success. It is unique each moment, every day. Your heart is its birth place. Make sure you show up.
Let's Chat! Where is YOUR Wild? How do you remember to listen to your heart? Tell us here!
Caitlin was married in her early 20s, owned her own home, planned a family and worked 9-5. Until she woke up and realized she was living someone else’s life. Now she’s somewhere between a beach bungalow, an apartment in a bustling Asian city, and a couch in Western Australia suburbia. She’s a part-time occupational therapist, yoga teacher, writer, nomad, and student. Full time she’s lopsidedly lurching through this one wild and precious life: http://caitlinprince.blogspot.com.au