The inspiration for this blog comes from one of my favourite and perhaps most influential mentors, American mythologist, Michael Meade. I was first introduced to Meade’s work in spring 2007. My then boyfriend, who lived in Santa Fe (NM), had been to one of his presentations and was so bowled over by him he bought two of his CD recordings on the spot. I still remember him waxing lyrical via a Skype video call about this talk he’d attended, telling me how much I’d love him too. He was right about that.
Later that year I finally got the chance to hear him, in person, when he came back to Santa Fe while I was there. For the two-and-a-half hours he spoke he didn’t waste one single word. I was rapt. The guy was mesmerising. You can keep your Deepak Chopras and your Wayne Dyers — this guy is a truly sublime teacher. And the best of it was his talk was free. In fact, most all of his talks are free. All he asks is you consider making a donation to the not-for-profit organisation he runs called Mosaic Voices. He also encourages folk to buy his talks and books with all profits going to the Mosaic Multicultural Foundation.
Anyway, I went on to buy every single talk/CD he’s ever recorded and now own them all. If I’ve listened to them once, I must’ve listened to them hundreds of times such is the depth, breadth, and richness of information contained within each talk. Although not available to buy in the UK, they are available to order online direct from Mosaic in the US. Postage is very reasonable. One of his most recent releases is a CD entitled ‘The Soul of Change’ in which Meade outlines, well, the Soul of Change.
I do warn you, however, that this isn’t New Age airy-fairy guff. His work is like nothing you’ll have heard before (unless you’re already familiar with the mythopoetic realm). It has depth and beauty and soul. He veers into tribal cultures and storytelling. He plays the drums while recounting traditional folk tales. He shares exquisite poems and breaks down dense, complex psychological concepts, making them more accessible for lay folk.
Late last spring, I had the privilege of attending one of his residential workshops in Santa Cruz, CA. Money very, very well spent. What an incredibly inspiring and nourishing experience. But enough of my enthusing — I’d like to share one of the poems he tells and subsequently explains, at length, on the abovementioned CD The Soul of Change. The poem is entitled ‘Someone, Somewhere’ by William Stafford.
I have an anthology of Williams Stafford’s poems called ‘The Way It Is.’ I’ve bookmarked almost every single poem in the book, such is its sublimity. Unfortunately, however, I can’t seem to track this particular poem down (Someone, Somewhere), so will have to recount it based on Meade’s telling of it on the CD:
Not you, standing with your host by a window talking,
And not you poised where the light enters and falls to admire what it finds.
We are looking for something different from any of us,
And from those we have always prized.
It isn’t accomplishment, not that.
And it isn’t how you look, or sound.
It may be a helpless lock, on a certain way, that no party outside you can change,
And no authority can dictate outside the room of your mind.
Maybe you choose, and then time begins to deny.
But far away, what is yours, will begin to come,
And nothing, then, nothing can stop it, between.
For you have turned a corner and become the Self that chooses its own prize.
What must you give, people ask, to serve the Divine?
And you don’t have to say, but you do have to know — everything.
I hold this poem close to my heart; particularly in light of recent personal events. Regular readers of this blog may’ve already picked up on my penchant for discussing personal transformation. The reason I ramble on about it so much is because a) I tipped my old 9-5, square-shaped life upside down and walked away from it and b) remain committed to transformation (my own and that of others). I’m also fiercely committed to walking a soul-oriented path. And it’s my ongoing commitment to that path that often makes things difficult, which is why the last stanza of the poem particularly resonates:
“What must you give, people ask, to serve the Divine?
And you don’t have to say, but you do have to know — everything.”
You see, following my inner gradient (talents, passions, interests) is what drives me, compels me, keeps me centred, calm (sometimes), and focused. Although I don’t adhere to any religious dogma or doctrine, neither do I follow any particular spiritual or cultural tradition, I do feel there is something mysterious and ineffable, both immanent and transcendent in which we are ensouled and also contain within us. I don’t care if you call that Nature/God/Divine/Allah/Universe/Deep Mind/Deep Self/Brahman/Yahweh — that’s all finger-pointing-to-the-moon stuff as far as I’m concerned.
This following your heart malarkey, though — damn, some days it can be difficult. When someone you love or respect, for example, whose opinion you value, is trying to get you to see things their way; but all the while a barely perceptible, little voice in the pit of your stomach’s saying, “No. I’m sorry, I can’t do that; No. I’m sorry, I can’t be the person you want me to be; No. I’m sorry, I have to stay committed to what feels right in my Heart of hearts.”
I remember clearly my Reiki teacher asking me before my initial Reiki attunement (August 2004) if I really was serious about what I was about to do, the path I was about to embark on. Let me just say I was very, very naive back then. Because if I had known what would unfold over the coming years, to borrow a line from the movie The Matrix, I’d have told my Reiki teacher to “shove that red pill right up your ass.”
Thing is, though, I wanted change — desperately. My life, back then, was pretty bleak. Put it this way: if I hadn’t changed things and changed them drastically, I doubt I’d be alive today. That little voice, however, gave me something to cling to, kept me afloat, while I drifted through very dark, very ambiguous waters.
Today, that little voice continues to direct me, not unlike Vasilisa’s doll in the fairytale (I recommend Clarissa Pinkola Estés’ brilliant telling and subsequent interpretation of it). That little voice pipes up, tells me to speak up and speak out, even when I’m afraid and don’t want to. That little voice stomps its feet and demands I get bigger, put myself out there, puff out my chest, and fake it ‘til I make it. That little voice tells me to ‘go this way, not that’ even when every fibre of my being is screaming otherwise.
But that little voice also tells me it’s going to be okay. It tells me I’m already sweet enough and don’t need to mindlessly unwrap and scoff another chocolate. It tells me I’m loveable and worth loving. It tells me to hold on and trust. It tells me that, even when the Winds of Change threaten to capsize what oftentimes feels like a rudderless rowing boat in the middle of a storm-ravaged ocean, so long as I keep listening in, keep serving my Heart of hearts (or the Divine as Stafford puts it), I’ll stay on course and, eventually, reach safe harbour.
For as Stafford also says, time does initially deny us — perhaps for weeks, months, or even years — but eventually what is ours begins to come, begins to move towards us. And it does. So long as we stay true to ourselves, nothing can stop it. But, and here’s the kicker, only if we hold fast and listen to the little voice.
This following your heart malarkey — damn, some days it can be difficult.
Thea is author of the inspiring memoir Running into Myself. Buy a copy from Amazon UK, Amazon US or, better still, order a limited edition signed copy direct from her publisher here (also ships worldwide).
“Thea’s personal journey is utterly compelling. I couldn’t put her book down. Thea manages to make Greek mythology not only understandable, interesting, and relevant to our lives today, but shows how it can be utilised as a tool for self development. She introduces ideas and ways of thinking that broaden your mind, and lights the way for others to follow.”