It’s been a whirlwind the last few years. Much has happened externally, many changes have taken place around me, and now I’ve reached a point where I feel called back to a realm where I used to spend a lot of time: my inner life.
The inner life has called out to me since I was a child. Climbing into a tree outside of my home when I was five, the breeze blew through my hair and the smell of fresh leaves surrounded me, and God’s presence was palpable in my midst. If I could have written about it, I would have. It was the moment when my inner life began to take shape.
When I was in my teens, it was running up to my room to write about how I was feeling and what I was thinking, processing and searching and recording and exploring with words. That was when I began writing my inner self into being.
Studies also contributed to my inner life, as I immersed myself in others’ perspectives, learned new languages, grappled with complex ideas and forced myself, through the structure of deadlines for papers, to figure out what I had to say about things.
I simply love to immerse myself in the inner world – reading, writing, learning, reflecting – and I always have.
The problem is, I don’t have a structure in my life, currently, through which I’m forced to express what I think or feel about things on a regular basis.
So last week, I’d had enough of this bobbing on the surface. I wanted to dive deeper, to greet my inner self again. I sat down at a quiet moment, took out my computer and my earbuds, opened a fresh page, and began to write.
A poem emerged, within seconds. How did that happen? It took no effort at all. My fingers moved, and words appeared on the screen, and before I knew it I beheld something created by my very own inner self.
Hello there, it’s been a while. But you’re still there, still alive and well.
The thing about my inner self is that she doesn’t call attention to herself. She waits patiently to be noticed. She is the shy child who has plenty to say but waits to be called on, waits to be given the space to speak. When given that space, she speaks eloquently and wisely, creatively and playfully. She has a whole personality of her own!
I had been missing her. My outer self is pleasant enough, responding to people and events with a level of ease that I’ve gained through my decades of living. My outer self knows that she loves swimming in the sea and walking in the wind, sitting around a homemade meal with her family, chattering with friends at the school pickups or listening intently to others’ stories while sipping cups of tea.
But my inner self has been waiting all the while to be listened to as well, to be given a forum to speak. Recently, tears welled up and tumbled down my face as I realized that I simply couldn’t ignore her any longer. A precious part of me was going without any recognition, and it was starting to cost me greatly. I could spend hours supporting others through listening, teasing out what was under the surface for them, but I wasn’t giving myself that same open ear.
As soon as I gave her space, she spoke so beautifully – if I do say so myself. To my surprise, she had plenty to say, without any hesitation.
As I listen to my inner self, I instantly feel more whole. And I’m grateful for that part of me that waited so patiently to be heard, and kept herself alive and well in the meantime.
So I hope to do a bit better at listening, paying attention, making space for my inner self to speak.
And, I encourage you to do the same. Take a few moments to listen to your inner selves. What are they dying to say, if given the space, if offered an open ear?
I imagine you’d be surprised at how effortless it might be for you to speak up, how eloquent you are. Your inner self, I would venture to say, has plenty of thoughts and feelings and perspectives that will come out if given the chance.
All you need to do is find a quiet moment, and let your fingers fill up that empty page. You’ll find that there’s a precious part of you that’s alive and well, only waiting to be heard.
Artwork is by my mother (top) and my daughter (bottom), both of them talented artists who simply find the time to sit down and let the pen flow. Out comes instant, effortless beauty. They are inspirations.