Listening To Your Life

My good friend recently went through a breakup, and her therapist suggested that maybe she didn’t listen to her inner voice when entering the relationship; maybe she ignored the little voice that told her that he wasn’t a great fit. I think may of us do just that when it comes to our relationships, jobs, school, actions, and words.

We know, on a deep level, that our job sucks and our relationship is going nowhere. We recognize that our career aspirations don’t line up with with our parents’ expectations, and that the shouting match earlier did more harm than good. We often choose to ignore the little voice in our head that reminds us to be kind, to be brave, and to follow our heart.

I recently came across the below quote, and it reminded me of my friend and her post-breakup mission of building up her self-belief and defining what she wants before going into another relationship.

“Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen for what it intends to do with you. Before you tell your life what truths and values you have decided to live up to, let your life tell you what truths you embody, what values you represent.”
― Parker J. Palmer

People across the globe, but particularly those raised in individualistic societies, are often hyper-focused on personal goals, career achievements, and societal approval. Individuals bend and mold their life to fit their unique vision of the ideal life. They get the law degree, make partner, buy a luxury car, marry a gorgeous women, travel the world (posting all the pictures), and create beautiful children; yet, none of these things guarantee happiness. Oftentimes, these pursuits blind us from our truest nature and surest path in life.

Although I’ve practiced mediation for years, I’ve never mused on the idea that life is using me as an instrument to fulfill a particular purpose. I have never considered that my life may be gradually revealing my truths and my values, or that I don’t need to actively search for my personal truth. Instead of selfishly asking “what is my purpose?,” perhaps I need to begin asking “what purpose am I meant to serve?”

I’ve been battling a variety of symptoms over the last six month, which were recently diagnosed as valley fever. I believe that our body has an intuitive wisdom and that physical disease stems from dis-ease mentally, emotionally, or physically. When we eat junk food, stay in an abusive relationship, or routinely perform unrewarding work, these things take a toll on our bodies.

“In examining disease, we gain wisdom about anatomy and physiology and biology. In examining the person with disease, we gain wisdom about life.”
― Oliver Sacks

While doctors have the role of examining a disease, those experiencing a disease have the opportunity to examine themselves. A medical observation of the disease in my body shows a highly aggressive infection, housed in unlikely host, being fended off by a particularly strong immune system. Thought there are most certainly other factors at play, the illness has encouraged me to explore areas of misalignment in life and question whether I’m trying to control my life, rather than allowing it to direct me.

Though I don’t think my toxic work environment and unrewarding projects are directly causing disease in my body, I do believe this illness is a sign that it’s time to seriously consider new options–a sign to ask life how it intends to apply my talents, truths, and values in this world, and then to listen.

7 thoughts on “Listening To Your Life

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    1. What a beautiful sentiment! It’s so true–I’m personally such a Type-A personality that it’s hard to step back and let go; yet, time and time again, it’s in that letting go and “letting my breath breathe me” that everything falls into alignment.

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  1. Life is full of challenges. Without them, we would have no need to continue to learn through our lives, and although it might seem like a good thing, it would be very boring to live. We cannot appreciate the sun without the dark, or the rainbow without the rain. I think we continue to learn and grow through our entire lives. Growth is not easy, for sometimes we stumble and fall and get hurt along the way, just as we did when we were infants learning to take our first steps. But then one day, we get it right, and suddenly what was a difficult task for us becomes something we forget was that challenge. It is as though we have always walked or so we come to believe.

    I too had Valley Fever from working in the Arizona, New Mexico, and Mexican deserts when I was involved in archaeology. I contracted it from spores in the soil, and you don’t have to be in those places to get it. You can get it anywhere there is soil. I got paratyphoid too, and that is when I decided to do something different with my life, albeit how much I enjoy solving “history’s mysteries.” It takes a long time to get over, but once you do, you should not get a relapse unless you go back out into the soil.

    Thank you for sharing this great post. I enjoyed reading it very much and now must look for your blog. It was very good feed for thought.

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