Several weeks ago, I was lying on my belly on the floor, writing.
My neck was a bit kinked, and my body felt stagnant.
Time for a walk.
It was around 10 p.m., and part of me thought,
Jeez, Tara, why do you insist on walking or running at night when you live in close proximity to mountain lions? And God knows what else could be out there waiting.
Meanwhile, everything else in me, said,
Yes, yes please! I need the movement and the sweet night air.
Do any of you ever experience that “still, small voice” that speaks from within?
At times it speaks in just a whisper in the din of my thoughts and the chaos of the world around me. Other times it speaks quite clearly.
Do you know what I’m talking about?
It’s something in me that has its root in a deeper knowing (call it intuition, call it what you will).
Sometimes the guidance is rather mundane, too—like a clear sense I should turn right, not left. Sometimes the guidance is deeper, trying to show me something about a relationship or a pattern in my life.
Always, it has a clarity and gentleness. Even if it’s firm, it’s never harsh.
So I listened to this sweet little voice inside me and out the door I went. When I came to the road, I had another choice. Left or right?
I had been planning on taking the road left and walking through the woods, but when I in fact reached the road, that little voice spoke again: Go right.
“Huh,” I thought, “that’s not what I was planning, but you know it might be nice to be out under the stars.”
Still fending off fears of mountain lions, to the right I proceeded, up a hill and out into the open. I was enjoying the temperate night air and at a certain point I was flooded with the smell of ponderosa pines, a sweet vanilla scent that I find intoxicating.
The canyon in which I live does something remarkable: it breathes and at night when the weather’s a little warmer, it sighs this aroma from trees that are a few thousand feet higher.
I was enjoying the stars, bright above me, studying the Big Dipper, feeling the wonder that only being under an expanse of stars can bring me.
I was listening to my ipod, too, which might seem strange, but for a music addict like myself, it is sometimes the case, even when I’m out in the quiet of nature. And it was this fact—that I had earbuds in—that led to a surprise.
I climbed the last hill and was rounding the final curve before the road would end.
Walking along cheerfully with music in my ears, I could not hear the quiet chatter ahead of me, so imagine my surprise when all the sudden, around that bend, there was a roadblock.
What was all this in front of me? My eyes struggled to make out a variety of shapes.
There was a car, its headlights off. There were chairs, and over there, two people… and, what’s that? A telescope?
This couple had driven up from the city to spend time stargazing. At the moment, they were looking at Saturn and they invited me to join in.
We were all like little children, consumed with glee and curiosity. We laughed and joked and they changed lenses on the telescope.
Each time I peered in, I was overcome with how remarkable this glowing planet is and how quickly it would move from view.
How fast the world turns! How quickly we are all careening through space!
It was the last thing I expected to find when I set out on my evening walk—and it certainly wasn’t a mountain lion.
It was a bit of magic in my existence, a balm for my aching heart and a memory I’ll always hold dear.
I’ve had times in my life when I live more closely connected to that still, wise voice, and times when the din inside me and around me has drowned out nearly all of it.
Feeling the frustration of trying to live in a way that is connected, I often think of the sentiment expressed in the epigraph of Herman Hesse’s novel Demian:
“I wanted only to try to live in accord with the promptings which came from my true self. Why was that so very difficult?”
It is not easy to live in accordance with our deepest wisdom, but it is worth rising to meet that calling.
I am coming back to a place in life now where that voice is clearer. I am learning to listen when it comes to “the small stuff” and working my way to greater clarity that will hopefully bleed into the larger things that can often get more muddled, like the intricacies of personal relationships.
This practice of listening is also reminding me of the magic that comes along with choosing to heed that wisdom.
And magic can be very subtle.
It can take you to the stars, or, in this case, the rings of Saturn.
This is my prayer now: that I may have the courage to both hear and heed that still small voice and when the magic comes, that I may be able to recognize and embrace its beauty, knowing I am worthy, knowing it was meant for me.
Then I can take that road that leads me to the stars.
Learning to listen and live by that voice of the true self is difficult, even in the form of shall I take a walk tonight?
But I am always up for a challenge.
I invite you to listen and have the courage to beat back the mountain lions in your mind when you let that voice emerge.
Let that voice take you to your heart and to the stars.
Tara Rose Crist is a music junkie, yoga junkie, equestrian, lover of the outdoors and deep ecology, bees and nurturing things (like plants and humans). Her academic background is in Literature and Creative Writing and these days the written word serves purely as a vehicle for expression and tool for self-exploration. It also seems like a good way to reach other people’s hearts and she’s pretty sure that reaching other people’s hearts is a worthwhile undertaking.
Editor: Jamie Morgan
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