Close your eyes right now and listen. What do you hear? No, seriously… do it.
If you’re like me you hear the quiet hum of a computer. You hear the pipes from the downstairs neighbors. You hear the overly faint beep of a truck backing-up somewhere outside. You hear a thump. You hear a whining child’s voice somewhere below. That’s what I hear. What do you hear?
Now, close your eyes once more and listen. Block out everything that you heard before. Now, what do you hear?
If you’re like me, you hear the bedroom screaming that it needs to be cleaned. You hear the dog screaming that he needs to be bathed. You hear emails screaming that they need to be answered. You hear status updates that want to be read. You hear a car that needs new oil. You hear errands that need to be run. You hear meals that need to be cooked and groceries that need to be bought.
And nowhere here, was I able to close my eyes and actually hear… my soul.
What is a soul? I don’t know. Seems everybody has an answer for that. To be honest I don’t really care. I know what my soul is when I hear it. I know what my soul is whenever I find it.
To me, my soul is a lot of things. It’s the one place I find where I worry about… nothing. It’s the place I find where I have no guilt. It’s the place I find where the voices of others have no, and I mean no influence over me. It’s the place I find where nothing hardly matters at all anymore. The stress disappears. The worry disappears. Financial burdens disappear. Health problems disappear. It’s the place I find that doesn’t care in the slightest about the problems that I thought just moments before were monumental.
It’s the place that speaks truth to me. It’s the place that wipes clean tainted slates from the past. It’s the place that teaches me what really is right or wrong.
It’s the place that pushes me to think more healthy. It’s the place that pushes me to feel things in healthier ways. It’s the place that lets me see things for what they are instead of what my imperfect mind often makes them.
It’s the place that shows me my true value. It’s the place that erases the judgments from others and erases the judgments that I place on others. It’s the place that makes every other person beautiful to me. It’s the place that takes away my feelings of being better or stronger than others. It’s the place that takes away my feelings that others are better or stronger than me.
It’s the place that whispers the brevity of my trials. It’s the place that whispers the temporariness of my problems.
It’s the place that reassures me that I have chosen good paths. It’s the place that reminds me that the future will take care of itself. It’s the place that recaps all the good things I have done and puts the mistakes into much better perspective.
It’s the place I find where money doesn’t matter anymore. Material things don’t matter anymore. Toys don’t matter anymore.
My soul is the place I find where I am truly grateful for everything. I’m grateful for what I have and for what I don’t have. I’m grateful for my struggles and for my lack of struggles. I’m grateful for my strengths and I’m also grateful for my weaknesses.
Every person must learn to leave their immediate worlds from time to time and seek out their souls. Some will find them in churches or temples. Others in mediation or prayer. Others in dance, yoga, or other sports.
Me, I find my soul on the mountain.
Oh, the mountain. I am surrounded by many a magnificent mountain, all with their magical escapes. Their caves. Their rivers. Their falls. Their trails. Their lakes. Their animals. Their views. Their geographical formations.
Their… lack of everything that makes my everyday world so… everyday.
No electronic humming. No neighbors. No pipes. No cars. No vehicles.
Just me. And the mountain.
You see, even if I’m with others, something about the mountains has the ability to take everyone else out of the picture. Something about the mountain has the ability to put everything into perspective. Something about the mountain has the power to make everything right in my mind again.
There is no doubt that part of the process for me is the sweat and the pain that it takes to get to the place where my soul is waiting. Often climbing thousands of feet over miles of difficult trail. The toxins expel from my body as I do. All of the frustrations and pain that I have been feeling are pounded into the path below me. The worries and fears that have weighed me down evaporate off of my wet skin into the hot sun.
And when I reach that place where my soul awaits, there is no further effort required on my part. The reality of what my soul wants me to see and hear floods over me. The peace I have been desperate for brushes across me until it finds a place to permanently settle.
Sometimes I sit for some time and bask in the message that my soul is delivering. Sometimes it speaks to me so profoundly and so powerfully that there is no need to stop in my journey at all.
And then, when I come back down off the mountain, I am a better man. I am a better father. I am a better co-parent. I am a better friend. I am a better son and brother. I am a better human being.
And as if by some sort of magic, I am blessed with reprieve from all the stresses of this world. At least for a little while.
And that is why I hike as often as I possibly can. That is why I leave and find myself a mountain somewhere that is quietly whispering my name.
I haven’t been hiking for years or decades. I’ve only been seriously hiking for a few months. But I can promise you this… I will meet my soul in the mountains forever more. I’m addicted to the mountains. I’m addicted to the freedom that comes from finding that part of me. I’m addicted to the perspective it gives me.
I don’t care where you live. Find your mountain. It might be a literal one or a figurative one, but go there. Because there is where you’ll find your soul.
It’s where I found mine.
Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing
PS. What about you? What do you get when you “find your soul?” What do you call it when you do? Where is the place you are able to do it? How often do you make time for these types of exercises? And, of course, if you think this is all kooky your opinion is welcome as well.
Also, please check back in a few hours. I’ll be posting about the events that happened since Yesterday’s post but the post is an emotional one for me, so I’ll need a bit to respond properly.