For years, copying other people, I tried to know myself.
From within, I couldn’t decide what to do.
Unable to see, I heard my name being called.
Then I walked outside.
The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
Where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep.
The Sufi poet Rumi often wrote in lyrical words about the musings of the spirit, a true mystic of his time. In this piece, he implores the reader not to go back to sleep. Not the physical state of sleep but rather the spiritual condition of sleep. The answers we seek are often right here in the area between the other and the now. This is the doorsill that Rumi speaks of. We so often choose to ignore what we know to be true instead, pressing on in our stubborn ignorance. Many times this manifests itself in moments of indecision or of choices that steer our life in a direction away from our purpose. I like to call these moment’s spiritual axis points on the grid of life. Only upon reflection can one look back and see that the decisions have taken them down a path that was extremely difficult. Spiritual axis points exist in everyone’s life. We are always drawn to the light but are given free choice. This provides the soul with fertile ground for learning opportunities.
I have been on a long journey of awakening myself. I recall one of my own spiritual axis points that steered me on a path that would continue for two decades of my life. I was living in North Carolina as a young mother of two beautiful children. Married at nineteen after becoming pregnant, I was thrust into a relationship that would represent a long period of unrest for me. I had not learned yet how to find my voice and deferred to my husband on most things. A troubled and intense man, I often fell into the role of a stabilizing force to balance his intensity.
A demonstration of this would be the time in which he made the quick and independent decision to move out West, reconnecting with some former teachers in a bid to gain momentum in his career. This was a cross-country move away from the support network I had built and my family who lived in Florida. Moving to North Carolina had taken me further away from my home base, my family. I didn’t want to believe it then, but this new move was a way to control my voice, my growing independence as a woman.
On our last evening in town, it was decided that we should stop by a student’s home and say goodbye. This was a surprise as he tended to move along with little warning, in an effort to leave behind the strained relationships he had fostered. That evening was very dark and the family happened to live on a quiet country road flanked on both sides by dense cornfields. After our visit, tired, we headed out on the road on the way home to prepare for our trip the following day. Driving through the cornfield in the dark was eerie and the silence was deafening. Suddenly, in the pool of our headlights something large appeared on the road. My husband slammed on the brakes and sat frozen in the middle of the road in complete shock. Directly in front of us was an owl as tall as the headlights of our car. It sat in the middle of the road on the yellow lines with intently focused eyes. I cannot explain the feeling of that moment. The owl looked at us as if to say, “This road should not be traveled”. It was clearly not afraid of us and sat with no intention of moving. My husband decided to carefully drive around the owl and as we did the owl turned its head and looked right at me through the passenger side window. I knew this animal was looking at me, through me and saw what was in my soul. It was a heavy omen that I tried desperately to ignore.
More importantly, my husband’s father had assigned all of his children spirit animals in honor of their Indian heritage. His spirit animal happened to be the owl. The message could not have been more direct. STOP, this road leads only to pain and sadness! Unbeknownst to me, my husband had already begun an inappropriate relationship with one of our ballet students who would be making the trip out West with us to audition for ballet programs in Utah. In my ignorant world, I was not equipped to see this as it was. I simply saw another instance of my family helping out yet another young dancer by taking them in, something we did quite often. I was immersed in my own reality, raising children, in a difficult relationship along with my general unease with life to see the truth.
Ignoring the message and against my better judgment, we headed out the next day with the young women in question and began the journey that would culminate many years later in tragedy and a true dark period in my life. Looking back, I am baffled by my unwillingness to see things as they were. I sensed there was something going on with the young women and my husband, but I choose the path of ignorance. This spiritual axis point went unheeded and the result could have been predicted by anyone as witness.
Why do we do this? When faced with important decisions in our life, we become adverse to the process. We choose by not choosing, we speak by not speaking. As a mother, I have told my children that the right path is usually the most difficult and I have found this to be true. Even with this, they still choose the easy way and have difficult experiences to show for it. As one that has always found the veil between this world and the next to be thin, even I choose to turn away from the truth. As Rumi said so eloquently, I went back to sleep. Rather than listening to my truth on the secrets of the morning breeze, I stepped back into the room fearful of what was beyond.
Being truly awake is a difficult journey. The awakening of a soul requires many life lessons and contemplation. For me, these lessons have been long and uncomfortable, but I would not be who I am today having not experienced them. I try each day to stay awake to the process, not numbing myself to my true voice and intuition. I speak these truths more often and don’t worry so much about what others think. I have stepped across the doorsill into an awakening of the spirit. If stepping across the doorsill is too much for you at the moment, listen for the whispered truths on the morning breeze and maybe something will call to you, prompting you to step forward and claim yourself completely.