“But, little by little, as you left their voices behind, the stars began to burn through the sheets of clouds, and there was a new voice which you slowly recognized as your own.” ~ Mary Oliver
It’s never too late.
This very moment, this very second, you can start all over again. You can rebuild your life and change the things that aren’t working. The invitations to recreate your life come from every direction if you look for them.
The first step is getting in touch with what you really want, with the unique feelings held deeply in your heart—your secret garden—the feelings that bring you alive.
For some of us, it’s freedom. For others, it’s security. Maybe you love solitude and nature, or maybe you thrive on being surrounded by people and love life in the city.
How do we do this? How do we know or rediscover or true desires and needs?
Before recreating our lives, we need to get in touch with this truth. This is not to say that our desires never change. As we grow, mature, go through life, and experience pain and joy, we get to know ourselves more deeply—and, yes, thank goodness, we do change.
This is the one thing we can always count on. But I truly believe that there are certain essential needs that each of us are are born with, deeply embedded in our DNA, that stay with us throughout our lives.
I remember all the way back to when I was just five years old. I loved to spin in circles until I was so dizzy I fell down. I loved to dance. I loved to run outside, climb tall trees, chase butterflies, and then lie on my back in the soft grass for hours staring up at the clouds while daydreaming. I loved being out in nature, in the sunshine, feeling free, and finding beauty and connection there. I loved to play and to dream.
And that has not changed one bit.
As we build our lives and “grow up,” it’s easy to forget these essential truths that are woven into the inner fabric of our beings. We begin to focus more on what our society values, which tends to be accomplishments, staying busy, accumulating things, being seen as strong, successful, and capable—and we can lose touch with our inner voice and with what we truly value.
If we don’t decide how we want to live, then circumstances will decide for us. It’s so easy to let our environment and the people we spend time with shape us into someone we’re not—to let someone else’s hopes and dreams shape our reality.
We start to listen and to believe in what others want for us, what others think is best for us; until maybe, one day, we find ourselves in a place—a relationship, a job, even an entire life—that we’ve spent years building. Until we have a moment of clarity that says, “This is not what I want, and how in the hell did I get here?”
The world will tell you what kind of life to live if you let it. Don’t let it.
If this resonates with you, it may be time to start asking yourself some hard questions.
I find that the only way I can do this is by spending time alone outside in nature. Going on long walks alone and letting thoughts come and go. Sitting in silence, listening from the inside out, and opening up to my feelings. Nature and silence connect me to myself, and to God, and the universe. I feel grounded, safe, loved, and present. Then I can revisit the fabric of my interior life and start to patch the pieces back together.
There are times in our lives when the only way to hear the answers we search for is to spend time alone. Without anyone’s help, without all the other voices telling us what to do and what is best for us. And in this silence, we can let the chaos begin to settle, inviting the silence in.
I’m not saying that this is easy. Looking within and listening is much harder than staying busy and doing. But in this space of silence, we can begin to listen to our inner voice, our intuition, and our heart. We can rediscover our strength in our aloneness, and in doing this, step into more courage to evolve. We can listen deeply to our own desires.
I find it crazy how we can go for years without asking ourselves these essential questions and without even realizing that we are slowly losing ourselves. We fall into relationships, jobs, and environments that tell us who to be, how to be, and what to love. Over time, we may realize the the things happening in our lives are not the things we want to happen. We can easily lose touch with the things that are important to us, the things that bring us alive.
When this happens, we start to feel disconnected, depressed, and unfulfilled. Everything may look fine on the outside—but on the inside, there is emptiness and sorrow. We can go for years trying to push away the whispers, the signs, the longings tugging at our hearts, the things we dream of doing, the life we dream of living. The real tragedy is when the whispers turn into loud voices, maybe into screams—and if we continue to push them down, to ignore them, filling ourselves up with addictions and denial and things to do, if we continue to ignore them for long enough, they will eventually fall silent.
If we truly want to know what matters today, all we have to do is look at our mortality and ask ourselves: If I had 24 hours left to live, how would I spend those hours? Who would I be spending them with and where?
And so, again, I repeat: It’s never too late. We get to decide how we want to live. And we can reinvent ourselves over and over again. The most important thing my in life I’ve found is to connect to my deepest desires, my soul, and then begin to walk or run toward what I love.
I have remade myself and rebuilt my life so many times. Each time I fall down, I get back up, and I grow, I learn, and I discover how very capable I am.
We make our lives by forming them around what we love and what we fear. The limitations we create hold us back and keep us stuck. What does it take to let go of these limitations and have the courage to move forward into the unknown?
I believe it’s allowing silence to be our guide and our anchor and asking questions without needing immediate answers and then trusting that we are not alone. That there is something much bigger than us holding, supporting, sheltering, and guiding us along each step of the path we are on.
Our lives are ours alone to mold, to choose, to shape, and to design. There are so many lives to live, so many options. We can live near the sea or in the city. We can eat kale or chocolate. We can go barefoot or wear heels. We can be single or in a relationship. We can make money or live simply. Everyone is different.
What do you desire? What is it that gives you chills—that fills you with joy, that brings you alive?
In the end, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks your life should look like—it is yours to decide. I’ve found that there is so much freedom in walking away from the things others want for us and stepping into our own light.
In the end, you don’t have to answer to anyone but yourself.
Start slowly, find the silence, listen to your unique voice, and take small steps. Each step is a step moving forward toward your wholeness. Don’t be afraid to speak the words out loud: “This is who I am; this is what I want.”
There is such beauty in the fact that we get to tell the truth about what we love, what we want, and who we are. No apologies. Hide nothing. Bask in the beauty of your uniqueness. Love your quirkiness, your weirdness. Allow yourself to be seen. Take up space.
It’s never too late. This very moment, this very second, you can start all over again right now. The invitations to recreate your life come from every direction when you decide to look for them.
“What will you do with your one wild and precious life?” ~ Mary Oliver
Click here to read this article in elephant journal.