Monday, April 27, 2009

a beautiful old soul

Look into the deep blue pooling eyes of an old soul and you will see the eternal flickering light of God. Spend time with one who carries within a soul who has lived and breathed many times. You will sense a spirit unlike another. Tucked deep and wide is an essence steeped in knowledge which is expressed in their manner, in their being. It’s not showy or hung out like a neon sign. This knowledge is simply present. You can feel its radiance all around the aura of an old soul and you can't help but be pulled into the pool. Sometimes you can't put your finger on what it is that sets aside an individual like this. You simply know its special.

I met an old soul in my late teens, only briefly spending time with him because our personal transitions were taking us in different directions. But every time we met, our conversations took on an infinite feeling of possibilities and dreams. It felt magically real as though the space we were in was protected by a sheen of oneness, disconnected somehow from the rest of the world. Our own energy complimented one another like we were on the same plane and we didn't need to justify any statements or wishes shared. An unconditional, knowing acceptance of thought....that's how it felt.

As I went off to university, he remained home to work and to save his money to travel the world. He was a tenderhearted nomad. He was a true free spirit who always walked to his own tune. When everyone around him was taking the safe route, he was fulfilling a different kind of dream. One day, he bought a one way ticket west and began his journey on his own....fulfilling his purpose perhaps, or just inhaling new experiences to shape him. Island hopping , working in Australia, meeting people, hands on learning.....until he arrived in Calcutta, a world away from life in Canada.

My old soul friend spent his days and nights volunteering at Mother Theresa's Home for the Dying, holding the hands of dying human beings, listening to their stories and confessions, being there giving his love over to someone passing someone who didn't have anyone. 21 years old guided by confidence provided from old soul wisdom. He gave them himself. They gave him new understanding of life’s lessons which I believe he carried close to his heart, marking his choices, impacting his personal destiny in this life.

Throughout his trip, I received postcards. He had promised and he did. They were wonderfully inspiring and filled me with so many questions. I wanted to know the deeper he felt, what he really did.....what impacted him the most....had his feelings on death changed? Softened? I wanted to hear all about it.....all the stuff that doesn't ever fit on a postcard. I wanted to learn the lessons he had acquired.

I never knew when he was going to return so I carried on with my own journey and decided to spend a summer in Victoria after I graduated. It was a necessary trip for me as I tried to find my own footing again after graduating and finding myself alone with a broken heart. I too began working with vulnerable people, learning my own integral life lessons while my old soul friend finally returned from his trip. With 25 cents in his pocket, he was dropped off at the highway exit of our hometown walked the few miles to his family's house and surprised them all. He took the summer to acclimatize and to plan his next steps, while I took to that summer to expand my own horizons and figure out my own gameplan.

Our paths missed crossing by one week, but this time, the postcards had turned into letters flying back and forth across the country….pages and pages of pouring, pages and pages of dreams, thoughts, yearnings……..with plans to finally meet up in person when I returned in the fall. When we met up again, the first thing I noticed a necklace he was wearing and asked him where it came from. It had been a gift from a man he sat with while the man was dying in India.

He shared a bit of the wisdom he had gleaned while he witnessed death flow through another human being. He spoke of the sadness he felt knowing that many died without anyone around them. He spoke of the humility he felt surrounded by so many who had so little possessions but were wealthy in spirit. He spoke of how moved he was by all of the people he had the honour to be present with when they took their last breath. I was in awe.

From there, we jumped into where we were at as individuals. His plans were immediate. Mine were extremely up in the air, tied in with another. And as much as there was an unspoken closeness between us, we were in different emotional places…..too far apart at that point to continue on a journey together. Regrettably, we parted with a heaviness of heart. I had chosen a different path.

I never saw him again after that fall when we were 21 years old, though from time to time I heard about him as our lives unfolded far away from one another in different parts of the country. We never communicated again. The long hand written letters never happened again. It seemed too painful somehow. What I do know, and would know this even if I hadn’t heard any of the details, my long ago old soul friend remained connected to community, to people, to family through smiling kindness, dignity and respect for others. His life work paralleled my own.

At times, I have wondered what would’ve happened had we been walking up the same hill…..if I had made different choices at that point in my life. But then so many amazing things would never have occurred…’s beyond my comprehension really to wonder this. Still…….

Today, however, I stop in that blanketing of wonder to send a prayer out to my old soul friend. I learned that he died last week on Earth Day. He always was a part of earth’s clay, always grounded and real. Earth Day seems prophetically right for him. Surrounded by his sons, his family……surrounded by the people whom he loved with all his heart. Their grief and emptiness is bottomless I am certain. I mourn for them.

Selfishly in my sadness, I wonder again …… but then I stop recognizing that old souls never vanish. They return again with the glimpse of the light of God to share their wisdom and to continue to learn new life lessons. Our paths are bound to cross somewhere beyond the flowing transition of possibility. It gives me comfort and it makes me smile. What a beautiful man he was….now shining down on all of us. I can feel him...can feel his eternal spirit. Can you?

Last night, I found my old soul friend in reading this paragraph which somehow found me....
"When the individual life flows towards death, it also flows through death. It travels like the music of the river. Sustained by its passion and belonging and within the sureness of its flowing, the river is alive. It has a future and urgency for new possibility. It has no fear of death and yet at the end of its flow, a river always seems to be dying into the huge embrace of the ocean. Yet there is no break between the end of the river and its flowing life. The song of its end continues to sing back up the river towards the first moments of its visible infant-flow. At death the music of the heart becomes one with the unheard eternal melody." John O'Donahue, Beauty, The Invisible Embrace.


much2ponder said...

Wow, Dana! Thank you so much for sharing your heart here. These types of relationships happen so infrequently and are to be cherished. You have memories and still thoughts likely unanswered, but this was truly a person who was in your life for a purpose. I am sorry for the loss you now must endure and pray he stays close to your heart through the binding connection you made early on.

Awareness said...

m2p...thank you. it was good to write it out. i had never captured this unique friendship in words before....the very idea that my friend was an old soul comforts because i know he's around, perhaps planning his next trip.

kenju said...

That last paragraph/quote is very powerful, Dana. I have known a few old souls, too.

Awareness said...

Judy...I felt exactly the same way. Have you read any John O'Donahue's books? You would love Beauty, The Invisible Embrace. That particular paragraph just seemed to "show up" last night and I loved it. I'm sure I've read it countless times, but the meaning didn't find me until last night.

Independent Chick said...

I'm sorry about your loss Dana. The wonderful thing, you evidently have some wonderful memories. And m2p couldn't have said it probably do have unanswered thoughts but this person had a purpose in your life. That is priceless.

Scarlet said...

I am sorry for your loss Dana .... but you know he's still with you.
He never left.

Awareness said...

Stacey...He's an old soul....and will live again. :)

Scarletina...John O'Donahue, who also died way too young was an old soul too I think, though I never met him. i watched a video of one of his speaking engagements and he spoke about death so eloquently....shared some of his experiences when he was a priest being present when someone died and it was so enlightening. He also talked of how the people who pass on remain around us, guiding us. I found so much comfort in how he described this. makes me smile thinking about it now.

debcarlton said...

Dear Dana
Today was one of the most difficult days of our lives. Chip truly was our "old soul friend". Your tribute truly captured his spirit and soul, thank-you.
Debbie Carlton(Tribe)

Awareness said...

Debbie! What a wonderful surprise. :) I havent stopped thinking of you and Bill and Chip's family since I got the news on Sunday. Today, when I knew the funeral was happening, I stepped outside and stood in my office parking lot and said a little prayer (my colleagues are used to me doing odd things!)....knowing in my heart it would be Bill up there giving the eulogy. I imagine it must be very painful for you all and you will miss Chip dearly. He was a very special human being, and over the years whenever i have thought about him, i am left smiling. An old soul indeed if there ever was one! And because of that, his beautiful light is eternal. x
Drop me an email....there's a link to it in the profile of this blog. Just go to the sidebar and click on "see my profile..." I'd love to hear from you...!
Love to you and Bill....and my heartfelt sympathies to the Trueman family.

ps. when I saw your comment, I said to Jamie..."I just received a comment on my blog from the person I walked to school with every day of my life!! :)"

Walker said...

I'm sorry for your loss and he will always be with you as you always held him close to your heart.

Gypsy said...

What a lovely heart felt tribute to someone who obviously had a huge impact on you and will continue to do so as you walk the journey of life with him forever by your side. I hope you find comfort in your time of loss Dana.

PS I will get to your email soon my friend. Life remains hectic as always.

Awareness said...

walker and gypsy.....the loss is a global loss, a community loss. But more importantly a deep loss for his family and friends. my memories of that time a long time ago have most definately remained intact and have made me smile many times over the years.
I wish we had remained in touch, but I know the importance of walking a mile with someone in our lives and then moving happens all the time.
It reminds me of Mitch Albom's book, 5 People you Meet in Heaven....who knows maybe Chip will be one of those souls I will encounter on my way to Heaven.
I direct the loss to his family and friends and hold onto my memory. Does that make sense? I don't want to take away the importance of their loss by owning any of it.