Sometimes, I lose my real sense of direction in life. Sometimes, the hats I wear and my tendency to respond positively to requests cause me to become distracted and shift from my true compass, the one that says I care about all things for they are bigger than myself. Sometimes, my compass sways. Today, it did just that.
I was rushed. I was driving between “obligations” and errands.
“Why do I have to comply all the time?” I blurted in frustration. “I have my own life. I want to be free.”
“You are free,” whispered Soul.
“No, I’m not,” I retorted. “I have to answer to you all the time.” I felt Soul flinch ever so slightly. She was taken aback by my out-of-character brashness.
She asked, “What do you want?”
“I want to be free to do whatever I want, if ever I want and whenever I want.”
“What’s stopping you?” she said over my shoulder.
“You. You’re stopping me. You’re holding me back,” I blurted before she had the chance to drown the thought.
“And how am I holding you back?” She was getting defensive. “Haven’t I always said ‘do whatever you want… the opportunities are endless?'” She reminded me, and with a silly grin, she recited an old nursery rhyme from childhood. “Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, doctor, dentist, actor, lawyer, rich man, poor man, beggar man, but NO thief,” Soul laughed.
“Seriously,” I said. “That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about guilt. I’m talking about feeling obligated that I have to comply to make YOU happy.” I lowered my voice and in a barely audible whisper I muttered, “I don’t want to let you down.”
I felt the naked intensity of Soul’s love rise inside me, and as tears welled in my eyes, I pulled over to the side of the road.
“Listen,” she said, her voice soft yet firm; a pleasing tone that suited her soft gray hair. “Your freedom to be whoever and however you want to be…good, bad, caring, uncaring, friendly, distant, cheerful, grumpy, joyful, resentful is a choice you make, free of all coercion. That is your inalienable right. If you are uncomfortable in your behavior, then find your compass, your authentic truth and live it. I do not dictate your choices. They are yours alone,” she repeated. She paused, then added, “I have no doubt that within you is also the capacity to reach for the best.”
“Yeah, but sometimes, just sometimes, I disconnect from my authenticity, and before I can act quickly on my root thought, guilt and discomfort move in because I know you won’t approve.” I was still struggling with my conflicting emotions.
“Guilt is not a bad thing,” said Soul. “Guilt is a learned response. It is the scale that measures your conscience against what you’ve been taught as ‘should’ or ‘should not’ do. If used as just that, guilt is a good thing. But more importantly, there is no ‘should’ or ‘should not’. There is only your freedom to choose.” Soul pierced deeper. “If you choose to, you can ignore me. You can change the course of your being as you desire. It is your choice, not chance that determines who you are, and remember,” Soul said, “I am who I am through you and your choices.”
“I know that,” I sighed.
“Don’t be so glum about it!” exclaimed Soul. “You’re the one who philosophized that we should value most our freedom, but not at the expense of our intrinsic values and morals. You said, ‘No God given right comes without an obligation to take responsibility for what we individually do.’”
“That was then,” I said with a slight of the hand, trying to push aside the truth to the words. Too often, when I expressed my passion to experience life and to live it carefree, Soul would quote me my past teachings and bring me back to face my authenticity to do what I knew in my heart to be right. Truth set in. Soul, the gentle witness to my behavior…I nurture her with my best thoughts (and sometimes my worst)… and she guides me through my life and code of conduct. Our dialogues serve to remind me that she is my scale of conscience, my compass, my authentic power.
“Don’t you have somewhere to be?” Soul broke the silence.
“Yup!” I started the car. “Let’s see… which ‘obligation’ first?”
“Your choice, you decide,” said Soul.
“You know you’re preachy,” I muttered under my breath. Then, with a regained sense of direction, I proclaimed, “I love this freedom of mine!”
“So do I,” whispered Soul. “So do I.”
Ahhh, another Pandora’s Box opened… so much to take in. The guilt we carry within us… mostly implanted by our upbringing, don’t you think? And now we constantly struggle with our inner self trying to find the right balance (compass as you call it) between nurturing ourselves and doing what is expected of us (the right thing)and always ending up feeling guilty because there always is something that we could have done more or differently. Sometimes I envy people who go through life without stopping to smell every flower that they come across… A much simpler life by all means but who knows, maybe at the end of the day they have the more adjusted compasses, at least for the duration of our short visit on this planet of ours.