The demon voices in my head have softened over the years. Their grooves of influence worn deep, they continue to babble, but their effect is of no real consequence anymore. I’ve ignored them long enough, while allowing them to continue their litany, that they don’t even expect me to listen at this point. But, babble they must, and babble they do. Bla, bla, bla… It’s like white noise in the background.
For years, the voices in my head that drove me forward ruled my existence. I didn’t know they weren’t me. I didn’t know they weren’t true. I didn’t know I could ignore them. I didn’t know my own voice, or whose voice I would hear if I did ignore the voices. Or, would I hear a voice at all? What would life be like if actual choice could happen? What would life be like if I was free from their influence?
I just finished reading a book by Bryce Courtenay called “The Power of One.” It’s a novel set in South Africa during and after the second World War. It’s about a young man growing up in this time, the influences that shaped him, and how he grew into a man and set himself free of the demons of his past that drove him. It’s a very well-written book and got me to thinking about the demons and voices that have driven me for much of my life.
The current stage of my life is a simple, quiet one. I have lots of time alone and plenty of time for reflection. A peace often comes upon me unbidden, I just sit—or, sometimes walk--and commune with the sounds and sights of my surroundings. I haven’t always been able to be as present with the immediacy of my days. It is a gift of grace. This is not my constant state. I can still get pulled into the effect of things that take me out of presence. But, I’m better at being present than I used to be, and I notice it more often than I used to, and I’m grateful for it when it happens.
I’m not a formal meditator. Meditation, for me, is more a communion with Life wherever I am. But, this kind of surrender has been traditionally more illusive than it’s become in recent years. Sinking into Life, instead of running in front of it, is much more familiar territory now. I no longer bear guilt born of pleasure. I no longer push myself forward out of some need to feel that I am enough or to matter or to be seen. These things hold no further ability to drive me.
Today was the first day of daylight savings time in the US, although here in Europe, it won’t happen for another couple of weeks. But, it felt like Spring today. The temperature was mild and I opened the door to my terrace and sat and read in my loggia. I could hear the sounds of cars and motorbikes on the street a few blocks away. I heard the birds singing and talking to each other. There was a voice talking over a loudspeaker announcing something of which I had no awareness. There were clouds in the sky and a breeze blowing through the still bare branches of the mulberry tree in the yard below me. My cat, Sophie, sat curled up beside me, and gratitude for the peace that enveloped my heart filled me.
Joy has been a very illusive experience in my life for a long time, but it is starting to creep in very subtly. For so long I had some concept of joy that kept me from it. I now think joy is a result of presence, that it comes from a surrender into life and the gratitude that is a result of that surrender. This joy is quiet and warm and fills my empty spaces. It is not something to strive for, or that is the result of anything I might or might not do. It’s more about my acceptance of life and what it holds. It’s about a lack of resistance.
There might come a time when I am moved to change the way I live my life or the place in which I live it. Life is like that. Change comes. But, for now, I am grateful for things exactly the way they are.