How does you know if you are pursuing your purpose and receiving help from the universe or if you are being distracted by a sparkling piece of clutter that is delaying your journey, or worse, pulling you down a different path?
I have reread The Alchemist recently, twice actually. Once for myself and once aloud over two weeks to teenagers I worked with in the wilds of Montana and Wyoming. Combining that with my dive into Women Who Run with the Wolves last year, and it appears that I am being drawn to texts on purpose and intuition. It is no wonder…. In the last two years, my life has taken some radical turns, and I have found myself grieving the life I thought I would have, excited by new possibilities, and figuring out life in this new state of being… Above all I have been wanting to understand my own language more clearly: my body’s ways of telling me what I want, and what is true. I have been practicing allowing the flow of life to support my journey rather than fight the upstream battles of what I think I should do or overly prioritizing how to please those I love.
Themes that have emerged in these books and in countless conversations with best friends, old friends, and strangers on the trail have included the following:
*How to know what we want,
*Identifying our deep soul’s desire,
*Allowing for expansion rather than contracting in the effort to have something (or someone) that we expected or really hoped to have (that can be a tangible thing, or a future that we attached to),
*Whether or not life has to be as hard as we sometimes make it. Of course life is hard, and much harder for most in the world who have more basic needs going unmet on a daily basis, including the need to be loved and accepted by their larger community. Life involves suffering but avoiding the suffering can make it worse, whereas being “in the suck” can enable us to feel our way to greater capacity as well as ability to not punish ourselves with all of the shoulds and expectations of the crazy American culture we live in… but instead enable permission to return to our personal, and possibly at a deeper level, our collective truths. (Thank you Pema Chodron!)
*Recognizing, if not reading, the signs from the universe, or the omens (for The Alchemist fans), and allowing for them to be whatever they seem to be, even if that is merely coincidence… meaning…not forcing an interpretation, heck, most of the time I land in a place of thinking that it doesn’t matter if the signs are coming from the universe or only my internal desire to see a sign, can’t the end result be the same? Isn’t the orientation to seeing signs coming from my deep soul’s desire?
*And finally, and most recently, I have come to notice that sometimes an opportunity will pop up and I wonder, is this from the universe? Should I say yes? Should I go for it? (Excitement often follows) or, is this a distraction? Is this something that I’m just allowing to determine my path, to be like a leaf in the wind and float wherever and whenever… and sometimes that is just a fine way to be… but how do I know the difference?
Maybe the underlying question is, first, what am I needing in my life right now? More floating and saying yes to unexpected opportunity? or more purpose-oriented choices?
Clarissa Pinkola Estés (author of Women Who Run with the Wolves) paints a picture of a spread of 200 tables of food with all kinds of delicious plates, and that first we have to ask ourselves:
What do I want?
And then, more importantly,
What is my deep soul’s desire?
And she says that chances are, the answer to that question, “what is my deep soul’s desire” most likelt is NOT on those tables…
You'll have to go out and find it.
Oof, I love this.
And yet I think that leads to an assumption that going out and finding it as to be an effortful affair where we feel the burden of the journey. But what if going out and finding it can be exhilarating?
And if we haven’t asked ourselves these questions, then when someone offers us a platter, how are we to know whether it is the universe conspiring to help us? Or a waste of our time, a luxurious distraction that does not further us along our path.
Here are some guiding questions that come to mind:
Before I was offered this platter, what did I want?
Did I ask the universe for this platter? Is it an answer in some way to my bigger journey towards my deep soul’s desire?
Am I rationalizing why it “makes sense” and would be a “smart move” to accept this platter?
On the other hand, does accepting this platter feel somewhat vulnerable (some might say “risky”) and exhilarating? Does it seem like somehow it’s almost too good to be true?
Imagine telling your older wise self about this platter… does that internal wild woman with a twinkle in her eye give a knowing nod and wink and push you out the door? Or is it sort of… a non-response.
Would other people be pleased if you to take this platter? If so, run like hell, my dear…as Hafiz would say.
If, however, someone who knows and loves you deeply and has their own way of following their purpose in the world would laugh with delight in the idea of you taking the platter, that is an entirely different matter.