Connecting With Our Soul

An exploration on the reality and importance of our souls within our lives and on this earth.

One of my favorite quotes is one by Francis Bacon that says, “It is a sad fate for a man to die too well known to everybody else, and still unknown to himself.” I love the powerful message and meaning that exists in the quote in regards to how important it is for a person to know themselves. In this day of advanced technology and globalization, we are all assaulted every day with the lives of other people. We see how they live and how they have made their way through the obstacles of life and either wish to be just like them or to be different. So often in life, we feel like we are on a time limit one way or the other and so we race to achieve our goals as fast as we can so that it does not become ‘too late’. We look at others around us and see where they are in life and, from that, judge our own progression.

We hear the beliefs and words of others and take them into ourselves, applying those words to our own path. We compare and compare and compare until, like the well-known quote goes, we are robbed of all joy and pride. ‘Maybe if I follow the same path as that person, I will be able to find true happiness and peace’ we decide and forge ahead without another word. But what is true happiness? And is there only one way to achieve such a thing? No, happiness is a subjective thing: it is different for each person that seeks after it. What may work for one person will not work for another, yet the latter will still continue down that path further and further, stating, ‘just make it around this corner- just lose a few more pounds, just change my style a bit more, and I will be beautiful like them. Then I will be happy.’

But it is a dark and deep hole that we are all slowly digging day by day, searching for treasure that is honestly nowhere to be found. Yet we forge ahead, believing that our effort will lead to victory while the whole time we are digging in the wrong place entirely. ‘But someone else found treasure- found happiness -within this hole and so I have to be able to as well’, we declare. Such paths become even more enticing when multiple voices speak of the treasure that can be found down that path, crowing at the top of their voices that this is what we should put our efforts towards. How can one voice compete against that? And yes- maybe after all the work, we do manage to find some treasure at the end of the path we walked, but is it truly the treasure that we wanted to find? Will that treasure really be worth all the effort and time that was put into trying to find it? Unfortunately, too often this is not the case, the reward falling short after the difficult journey.

I think what is at the crux of this issue is our souls. Each of us are born with a spark inside- something unexplainable, powerful, and ancient. The idea of a soul is incredibly complex and not something that can be defined by science or even religion. It is something divine that resides within each of us, unique like a fingerprint. It is the semblance of our ego, our personality and yet so often it is disregarded or ignored. Too few of us have taken the time to get to know ourselves, to understand what sits at the core of our being. In other terms, many are not self-reliant: they cannot depend or rely on themselves due to a lack of understanding of their being and so instead find meaning in the words and lives of others.

What makes each of us tick? What fills our hearts with joy? What brings us pleasure? What can bring us true happiness? The more we focus on our own soul and its attributes, the more we are able to answer these questions and find the right paths in life for each of us. Yet, due to a lack of self-esteem or others, we forgo this idea and instead choose to match those around us. We try to find fulfillment in the people around us, work hard so that their words and existence can fill that hole within us. We think that only the outside world can complete us and so often get pulled down paths and into situations that bring us little, if any, satisfaction. Too many of us live with too low self-esteem because we have regarded our own soul and being as worthless or pitiful, shunning it to a corner or even outright despising it due to the existence and lives of others around us.

Growing up until now, I saw this constantly at school. People who worked towards careers and lifestyles that really did not match or interest them just because of the words of people or adults around them; people who entered awful relationships believing that that person could complete them; people who thought they were ugly and worked themselves into depression or bulimia. Each of these instances broke my heart as over and over again I saw people walk down paths that only ever brought them misery and suffering, yet they continued on due to a desperation hope within themselves.

It faintly reminds me of an analogy I heard once about a man who is a prisoner within a cell. His clothes are ragged, his accommodations meager, his life dull and hopeless, his future nonexistence. Yet, each day he is given some bread to each and water to drink, keeping him alive. After a period of time, a key is placed next to the the offered bread and water. One would assume that, upon seeing they key, the man would race to grab it so he can gain his freedom. Yet, instead the man ignores the key and takes the bread and water. He has lived within this cage for so long that it is now his reality, his comfort zone. It is something known and understood where he lives off the scraps of bread and cups of water that he is given.

The key means nothing to him by now for he has accepted the situation he had found himself within. If he were to take up the key and release himself from that cell, he would be entering a world of unknowns. ‘Better to stay where I am than risk losing the few scraps of sustenance that I am given to survive’ they decide. This is the case with many women who find themselves the victim of domestic abuse. They have lived like that for so long that they have accepted it all, scrambling for the little bright spots that exist with that lifestyle, so many rarely able to find the courage and pride to speak up or escape that prison when a path out appears. And it is the same for many of us in other ways.

Due to our low self-esteem and lack of true understanding of our souls, we wander aimlessly down paths and into prison cells that only bring misery, all based on the words of others around us. Sometimes are cages are dark and dower places and other times they were ornate and breathtaking places- yet they are prisons all the same. Truly, it is only through looking within and understand ourselves, lifting up ourselves and understanding our souls that we can find the courage to break out of our own prisons and find the path that works for us, that fits us well. The road towards and down that path may be hard and difficult, but the treasure that lies at the end of that journey will be well worth it, if we only take that first step towards self-reliance.