What is the measure of a soul?
It’s not what you think you “look like” to others. It’s not even how others actually see you, what they think of you. It’s not how many votes you get if you’re running for president of the United States. It’s not something that can be counted by the power of persuasion. It’s certainly not something that can be bought. Popularity has little to do with the substance of the soul.
Selling yourself as something others want destroys a soul. This is my experience. Don’t confuse the feeling of being liked, or wanted, or needed, or paid or given money with the feeling of having a soul.
Being “nice,” being kind, doing the right thing have less to do with the thickness of a soul than you might think. You’re getting warmer if you ask how hard it is, how much courage is needed from you to do those things. Yesterday I was at an intersection in busy traffic. In the median of the lanes perpendicular to me was a hooded figure with his back to me holding some kind of sign; I thought it was a sign asking for money. I wanted to pull my car over onto the shoulder, run out and give him a twenty. But I stopped myself. I imagined anger from others in their cars; I imagined them shaking their fists at me, telling me that he should have a job or should be using social services, not standing in the median asking for money. I imagined them honking their horns at me, yelling that I was encouraging him, shaking their fists at me and telling me to get back in my car, shouting at me that he was only going to use the money for drugs, telling me there’s something wrong with me. I stayed in my car. I drove by the person asking for money. I was scared. I didn’t have the courage to do what I really wanted to do. That’s okay. It’s where I’m at. I’m working on this.
And it doesn’t matter if you would or would not have given that person money, or what you think of what I wanted to do. What matters is that you listen to who you are and try to do what’s right for you.
I have to believe we are all born good. This is who I am.
That question, who are you, do you know who you are, that, that has everything to do with the thickness of a soul. Do you know who you are, really. Can you strip away the distractions enough, all of the distractions, the pressures, to find yourself. It might not be that easy to do.
Simplicity yields a soul. Creativity, art yields a soul. Quiet yields a soul. Stillness yields a soul. Deep, deep listening, to yourself, to the quiet voices, yields a soul. Solitude yields a soul. Loving yourself like the baby you once were yields a soul. Living deep in the forest among its plants and its creatures yields a soul. Probably other things do too. I can only speak of my experience.
No matter how old you are now or who your parents were or how they treated you, figuring out who you are apart from who they wanted you to be or needed you to be or thought you were, yields a soul. You have to feel your feelings when you do this. This is the hardest part. You might need god, or your version of some god, for support if you decide to do this. It can take a long time. Especially if your parents’ needs were great, if you were used as a child as a substitute for their soul. Because they didn’t know their own.
It might not be that easy to do.
Grow your soul. Get quiet for a long time. Be still. Listen. Feel your hurt. Metabolize it in art. Be gentle with yourself. You are good. You are worthy. Even when you think you are weak, you are powerful. You were never meant to be hurt.
We can do it together. We can grow.
Also posted on my other blog, “Beyond Bankruptcy: Care for the Soul“. A.