In many of the works that I am currently reading, and most recently understood in Nimue’s Druid mid-life crisis blog http://druidlife.wordpress.com/2013/07/02/midlife-crisis-druid-style/#comments, I am coming across the words and the ideas of “soul retrieval” and the “essential self” more and more.
Having recently undergone a “dark night of the soul” this autumn and winter, perhaps it is fitting that I should now be coming across this soul retrieval business. I feel a longing, a kind of hiraeth (not of Wales, but of the past) for the person that I used to be. Maybe it is being now in a mid-life awareness (I hate the word crisis, it’s not like it’s life threatening).
At the age of fifteen and sixteen, I knew that my life would be changing in so many ways. College was just around the corner, and I would be leaving home, leaving behind my family, the home I grew up in and the mountains in which my soul had nestled, sheltered within their softly undulating, forest-covered beauty. I would be leaving for the city, for places with public transport and concrete, full of people and movement, filled with the songs of humanity.
Knowing that this change was fast upon me, I spent every wakeful moment I could embedding in my memory the beauty of those times. The way the setting sunlight hit the walls in my peach coloured bedroom, the smell of our house; the sounds and sights that were so familiar to me I actively opened myself too again in order to preserve them forever. Perhaps, without knowing it, preserving them again for when I had need.
I spend as much time as I could outside in my old haunts, the woods that rolled along the mountainsides, the valley where the horses spent the summer, along the river edge watching the undines. Walking around the house, I would talk to the trees and the plants, thanking them for what they meant to me growing up surrounded by their embrace – the cedar hedge, the birch and oak trees, the rowan and the blue spruces, the yew beneath my window.
I also recalled and burned into my mind the memory every bit of the long-haired boy that I loved, not knowing what would be in store for us in the future.
It was a time when I knew who I was, and knowing that it was all about to change made it that much more important to remember. I was a dreamer, a writer, a poet. I had a strong set of ethics and ideals on which I would not compromise. I was a thinker, a fey, one who watched from the edges. It was a time when I let my essential self shine through, without barrier, without fear. Perhaps it was in naivety, perhaps it was in courage, but it was there for the world to see. The ego, driven by past experiences, had not yet been coloured yet by the hardships to come, the highs and the lows. It did not know better.
Lately I’ve felt a strong sense of wanting to return to her, to that girl in the mountains with her hopes and dreams, who allowed her essential self to guide her. Funnily enough, some of those dreams have come true. I am a writer, but I also feel the need to return to the dreamer. To return to a time in life when I deliberately slowed everything down, in order to savour each and every moment. To be utterly connected with everything. It was a wise decision then, and I am so glad to my former self that I did it, for now I have such beautiful memories. A lot of my friends seem to be on similar journeys as well right now. Is it because we are all of an age? Synchronicity? Or something else?
I’m shortly going on a two week vacation back home to Canada, and feel that this trip will be encompassing all those ideas, of returning, of remembering, of soul retrieval. I left a part of her back there, while I was so focused on my intent. I left a part of her there when I moved to the city, then across the country, then to another country altogether. Maybe I need her back.
At any rate, I look forward to meeting her.
The essential self is innocent, and when it tastes its own innocence knows that it lives forever. – John Updike