Who do you want to be?

Breaking Surface by Mark Nepo.

"Let no one keep you from your journey
no rabbi or priest, no mother
who wants you to dig for treasures
she misplaced, no father
who won't let one life be enough,
no lover who measures their worth
by what you might give up,
no voice that tells you in the night
it can't be done.

Let nothing dissuade you
from seeing what you see
or feeling the winds that make you
want to dance alone
or go where no one
has yet to go.

You are the only explorer.
Your heart, the unreadable compass.
Your soul, the shore of a promise
too great to be ignored."


A teacher of mine, The Naked Voice founder, Chloe Goodchild read this poem during a meditation whilst I was on retreat with her last year.  It touched something deep within me and has permeated my being ever since.

Let no one keep you from your journey.

This is something I’ve had to pay particular attention to as I’ve slowly integrated my life back into my homeland of Northern Ireland after half a lifetime spent traveling the world.

There is a particular flavour of demon voices that live here and they have on occasion been matched up with an actual human being who does not get or like what it is I do. I have had to strip back the external sounds, listen to my trusted mentors, tune into my inner voice, not the critic, not the one who was ever bullied, but the clear quiet voice of my intuition, in order to separate the real from the unreal and keep moving forward.  

A couple of weeks ago I went for a 4 day winter retreat with Chloe.  For me the retreat called for more silence than previous voice retreats, and a lot of journalling.  

The silence was deep listening for the answers to the same questions I regularly ask students who come and delve with me - 

Who do you want to be?
What do you want to be known for?
Complete the sentence “Wouldn’t it be amazing if….?”

As I wrote my manifesto for the coming year, the demon voices were quick to jump in with a barrage of negativity.

I asked ‘Who are these demon voices whispering in my ear?’

I wrote the question down, and followed the thoughts, uncensored.  Next thing, much to my surprise, a poem, maybe the second I’ve written ever in my life, had appeared on the page and in it, with total clarity, was the answer.

I identified in my process, the first time, aged 11 or so, outside of my inner childhood circle, that I had downloaded the message from a couple of local tough girls that I was not even nearly good enough.  Once I could see the people in this exchange in my mind, seeing they were also children whose own journeys to that point, or indeed beyond, I have no knowledge of, the notion that they would have any impact on my adult life seemed completely ridiculous.  Of course, this is how it works.  Things go in when we are young, they confirm something we may have suspected for whatever reason, and boom, 32 years can pass before we recognise why we have so much self doubt.

My main feeling in this moment and the days that followed was awe coupled with a tangible lightness as a torrent of creative ideas came rushing through as though flood gates had been opened.  

So I ask you, who do you want to be?  And who or what is holding you back from your journey?  When you hear a voice, where is it actually coming from?  Did someone plant that voice in you years ago? Is it actually coming from the person you think it’s coming from?  Is this an old voice from somewhere way back in the archives?  Is what the voice is saying true at this point in your life?  Was it ever?  

I’m yet to meet someone who does not have these struggles to some degree. 

Voices come to tell us it can’t be done, it won’t be appreciated, nobody will come etc, so what should we do? Tame ourselves and pull back to fit what certain people need, or strive on following our hearts and trust that our passion, enthusiasm and connection to our mission will lead us and the right opportunities and people will present themselves at the right time?  Should we never try in case we fail?  I’m not buying it.

This message is deep within me now.  Is it easy to keep going when things get tough?  No.  Am I going to keep going anyway?  

You bet your ass I am.

In love,