Follow Your Inspiration
“I’m having trouble finding my path. I’m not sure if I should be where I am. But I’m also not sure where I should go and I don’t want to have regrets. How can you be so certain of your choices?”
This is the theme of the questions in my inbox.
And although I have not an ounce of official authority on the subject, I do have one wild track of trial-and-error from which I’ve learned a thing or three. So I’ve pondered upon my path – its pits, plunders, pursuits, and prizes– and have come up with the personal guide to seeking, finding and following Inspiration that has worked for me. Take what you like. Dismiss the rest.
But first let’s first pull the word “omen” out of the terribly-over-stereotyped “witchcraft” box. I want to dust it off and redress it, because it IS one of my favorite words, of which I never dare travel without.
It sounds trite, but I DO believe we each have a unique purpose in this life as well as an individualized path, patiently, awaiting our realization. Omens, I would like to more practically redefine, are nothing but the little signs helping with direction along that path.
We don’t get aerial maps of our lives (‘cause that would just be terribly boring). Instead, we get an internal compass that goes by many names, including, “inspiration”. We get a key of odd hints and seemingly nonsensical clues called, “instincts” and “inclinations” and as we pick up the pursuit of a path, we encounter — at every turn, crossing and corner — these friendly signs that help us choose how to proceed if we let them.
My life is flooded with omens. And this is the reason why it appears as easy for me to blaze a trail without worrying about wrong or alternate paths. But I certainly haven’t always seen it as so. It’s quite easy for me to remember when I imagined myself standing in the middle of a desert completely dry of view and direction. But looking back, I see that even there, my omens existed. I just was too busy scanning the horizon for an oasis to see the small smiling flower at my feet.
For omens are not usually obvious. They are the asterisks that indicate to the fine print. And they are usually only noted by those that note them.
Enough. For as my mom recently pointed out, “your writing is getting too metaphorical and OUT there.”
*exhaling one of those sighs that are reserved for parental criticisms of your way*
So I’ll get on with it. The following are some of the omens that I have found to consistently prove themselves as reputable signs along my path:
Goosebumps: Goosebumps, for me, are a clear call from the subconscious to the conscious,that SOMETHING, of hair-raising proportions, is being hit in the head with a spitball. For example, the ONLY reason I made the decision to walk the Camino de Santiago was because the first time I heard about it, my arms suddenly converted to chicken skin. Simple as that: the body knows before we do. And it WILL jumpstart your skin to attention in the presence of great opportunity.
Unexplained Familiarity: All of my unexplainable feelings of “familiarity” with things, ideas, persons or places have turned out to be grounded in something greater. Now this, by all definitions goes “out there” (sorry mom), but I very much believe that we chose the life (and its trials and learnings) we’re living right now long before we were conceived into it. But we just chose to forget we’ve chosen it (refer back to why we’re not given aerial life maps). But the impression of what we knew is still there; similar to the impressions left from a forgotten, but still “felt,” dream from last night. For example, Spain “feels familiar” to me. Getting off the plane in that country is like sinking into worn sneakers. And it’s for that reason, more than most others, that I keep returning to it.
Day Dreams: If you have a waking or real dream, then you are at advantage, for you are already aware of your inspiration. Seeing the oasis in the desert always makes it easier to get there. What’s important to remember is that waking dreams ARE absolutely credible. No matter WHAT it is, it’s real AND it’s a part of your path. Do not “shhh” your imagination. “Shhh”the voices of society and insecurity that doubt that it’s in you to bring your inspiration to life. I have enormous, reckless, and outrageous dreams that I would blush to speak out loud of. And I remind myself every day that these inspirations would not be conceivable if there were not already seeded in physical reality.
Night Dreams: I believe we are subconsciously quite aware of our waking route and that dreams are a direct and daily channel to accessing and bringing those awarenesses up to more conscious levels. For example, one night last February, in a dream I picked up a phone and was told by someone that I needed to go to Israel. When I woke up, I wrote into my dream journal; “I’ve been called to go to Israel.” And thus I know that, as soon as opportunity and the present moment cross paths, I will travel to Israel. Why? Why not?
Bad Habits: I personally think bad habits are not so much “negative” as they are “indicative” that energy is being misused or displaced. But the energy is there, and it just needs to be funneled into a more creative mode of expression. For example, I find that some of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met have serious histories of extreme drug or alcohol abuse. Bottled passion is explosive. They tried to subdue the intensity of their passion because they hadn’t yet found the creative and beautiful ways of expressing and letting it out. I pick at my fingers and bite my lip. But I’ve learned to recognize that it’s because I’m holding back an expression of myself, either by fingers (writing) or mouth (word), that my body is physically asking to be released.
Natural Talents: Anything that comes easily to you is a part of your path. It could be language, body expression, song, silence, dance, stillness, leadership, independence, writing, painting, sex, abstinence, sport, observance, walking, stopping, giving, or taking. The trick is to not label the things that come easily to you as stupid or unimportant. For example, two of my natural talents are that I’m an extremely slow learner and I have no memory. I used to hate these things about myself. But now I understand why learning things slow is essential to my path; Because I´m constantly treading new personal ground, I need to analyze every single step and make sure it makes intuitive and intellectual sense before I take the next. So that then, when I get to the “end” of that segment of the path, because of my thorough investigation along the way, I never have to look back. Similarly, I have no memory for numbers or dates because these are time-dependent ratios that are contradictory to my focus on the present moment. They are irrelevant to my path and so they are subconsciously discarded from my awareness. Or I may just have a learning disorder; which I’m equally happy calling it.
Childhood Obsessions/Interests: When did you stop believing in your dreams? I think I stopped between the ages of 7 and 22. For sixteen years, I let the social institutions keep me convinced me that my life was not special, that my dreams were not real, that I owed something to someone, and that if anything felt good I should feel guilty about it. Looking back at my 7-year old self, it’s easy to see my passions because I had no fear of expressing them. When I was 7, I spent all my time exploring in the forest behind my house; drawing maps, collecting pinecones, digging holes and seeking buried treasure. There was no end to my delight with life. Yesterday I spent the morning seeking Ceibo trees, collecting seeds on the ground from under them, mixing compost with dirt and planting seeds. When the 7-year old in me is stoked, her joy overwhelms me. Growing-down is highly underrated.
Unexplained Intuitions/Emotions: If something moves you, and you can’t explain why, then it deserves your investigation. It’s one of the biggest lies in the word that you need “a good reason” to be able to proceed with an inclination or intuition. Be patient. Allow it to make sense later (because it always proves itself to do so) and just let your self be moved without premeditated direction. This weekend, I saw someone that I felt, without explanation, I “needed” to talk to. So I offered him coffee and we suddenly exchanged messages essential to my quest. A few years ago, I quit my job and traveled hundreds of miles to live in Antigua Guatemala because I fancied seeing its cobble stone streets. Now really. Can you think of a more reason-less reason to move somewhere than to see a city’s streets? But every day I lived in that city I treaded and adored those cobblestones. And it was like my love for them somehow grew out of the future to touch my past and become an omen in my present. When the circle completed itself, it all made sense. But sometimes we all have to swing corners without knowing what’s around them.
Feeling “Lighter”: This is an extremely important “trick” that I constantly employ for decision making. If I come to a fork in my path and can’t decide which way to go, I pause. And in that pause, I make the decision to go one way but without taking the actual step. And then I simply close my eyes and take account of my body’s response. How do I feel now that I’ve made this decision? Do I feel any discomfort, tightness or heaviness? Or do I feel a slight lightness, ease and grace? Then I make the conscious decision to take the alternate route, and take another self-assessment. From experience with this exercise I have found that consistently there is always one choice that makes me feel slightly “lighter.”
The Path of Least Resistance: The truth is, not only do you want to find your path, but your path wants to find you. And thus, it WILL present itself tirelessly and in multiple forms to give you plenty of opportunity to recognize and realize it. It is the desire of the Universe that we all self-realize. I never wish “luck” upon anyone, because I already know that all dreams are real and that the entire Universe is on our side to bring them to be. When I feel like I’m pushing and not getting anywhere, it’s always because I’m pushing in the wrong direction. In these cases, I turn around and go with wherever the flow wants to take me. For example, not only did I feel guilt for eating animals, but I also don’t like meat and my body doesn’t digest diary products well. I spent years dissecting meat for its leanest parts and eating tons of dairy despite its ill effects upon my body. Now does it really surprise me that vegetarianism has suddenly come so easy to me? There’s no more burden of guilt and my body is functioning more smoothly than ever. I know being a vegetarian is a part of my path because if I stop fighting and just let things flow, I suddenly see that it was always my path of least resistance. Likewise, I hold little attachment to things and people. But instead of beating myself up for not wanting stable possessions and relationships, I just make a living that is in accordance with my natural affinity for the life of movement and unattachment. People are deceived when they think I work hard or have great courage or tremendous energy to chase down my dreams. The truth is, this is the most natural and easiest thing that’s ever come to me. And that is how I’m confident that I’m on the right path.
Explore Whatever Excites You: This is the absolute key to following your inspiration. Anything that “excites” you IS a definite part of your path. Excitement is the greatest omen. If you feel “moved” or an “inner smile” or a slight “energy” move through you at the mention of an idea, place, person or thing — then it means you are on, or close, to something that IS a part of your purpose in this life. If inspiration is your internal compass, then excitement is the energy force that wiggles and turns the dial to the direction of your path. Follow it! No matter what it is — if it makes you lose track of time, or keeps you up at night, or makes you want to talk about it without stop — then follow it!
Follow your inspiration.
And remember that there are NO wrong turns along your path. Every part of it IS you. ESPECIALLY the “wrong” turns. I learned about honesty from stealing. I learned about truth from lying. I learned about unattachment from hoarding. I learned how to appreciate food by fasting from it. I learned silence by seeking refuge from the noise. I learned stillness from movement. And I’m learning humility from too much ego. Change, evolution and enlightenment are not born from mediocrity. Make extreme decisions and extreme enlightenments will follow. Every single bend, turn and cross in our paths presents another learning exercise or application for the purpose of personal growth. We only stop living when we stop learning. There are no mistakes; only opportunities to grow. And remember — your adventures are never lost – only changed.