Soul and spirit of living

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He calmly replied, “Being human is hard enough.” He was 6, and it was a response to my (I’m now embarrassed to admit) innocuous question, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” More so, I was ashamed of not seeing the truly beautiful human being that he is and the innate wisdom not borne of institutionalised education nor life experience.

It was the voice of his soul. Our ensuing conversation was no less profound and demonstrated, at least to me, his intimate sense of human existence and a pre-cognition of what life could entail. It is our soul’s knowing. And as Heraclitus said, “the soul is its own source of unfolding.”

What reminded me of him today was her –the vivacious young being of 9 who explained her anger as such. With her arms outstretched towards the wall, she raised her left to a spot on said wall. “This” she nodded to her left, “is my anger, and then after a little while, I get over it and I am here”, she looked to the right as her right hand touched a spot higher and above her head. Before I could say a word, she continued, “but…” her right hand lowering and moving into her left fist still planted on the left spot on the wall, “I have to go through it and out!” as she swished her right arm upwards for dramatic effect. She went on to inform me that she knew why she’s angry and thus able to get over it.

And there is encapsulated the simplicity of the human spirit. That there lies within us, the yearning to overcome, to take flight, to reach for the stars. And what beauty there is in this place, no matter the human experience of struggle, pain and sorrow as we relish the passion, the triumph and the ecstasy on the journey.

Soul and spirit – two balancing forces in our human experience. The soul lives in the realm of imagination and dwells in the earthiness of life – with its imperfections; ‘it has an appreciation for human limitations and folly’ to quote Thomas Moore. Meanwhile, the spirit compels us to transcend this messiness called life, to pursue meaning and bliss.

My children have taught me many lessons throughout their young lives – one such is to honour the soul’s impulses to get down and dirty with life – be it rolling on the grass – who cares about grass stains ;), or taking risks with equanimity; and at the same time to revel in power and strength derived from the industriousness of the spirit – to see myself reflected in their eyes, to aptly situate the intellect and art in my life.

I digress a little to say this – children are not empty vessels to be filled, if we only but see, they are perfect ‘soul and spirit’ creatures that our world would then proceed to diminish, until they are, like I am, left here longing to return home. Somehow many of us have forgotten our awesome-ness (‘stole’ this word from the children 🙂 ), we have lost faith in our unique and common existence. We no longer see our true potential.

So, are my children my treasure? No, they are not. Oh, they are precious to me but they are not mine. They are their own persons. As Khalil Gibran said, “

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.

My prized treasures are my memory of them, the lessons I have learned from them, and the love they have inspired.

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