How many time in your life have you been faced with an opportunity which lights up every part of your being but, for whatever reason, you've not felt able to say “Yes” and answer the call? This happens to all of us over the years, and over the years it can become harder to say “Yes”. For the years bring more responsibilities and duties which we feel bound by.
There is a short story first related by Soren Kierkegaard which acts as a metaphor for this situation, and I retell it here.
"Once a certain flock of geese lived together in a farmers meadow. The farmer fed them good corn everyday and kept them safe from predators. The geese fared well and were content.
But one day in late winter, high in the sky, they saw birds flying in big “V” formations. They could hear the harsh calling of the distant birds, and it made the geese restless. They ran around the meadow, flapping their wings, not knowing quite what to do. Each day over the next week, the geese saw these birds flying high in the sky. And their hearts stirred in their breasts and they were filled with a nameless yearning. But each day the farmer brought them corn and they ate and forgot their unrest.
Art by Tom Greenslade
As they watched, one of the distant birds left its formation and flew down to their meadow. Imagine their surprise when they saw it was another goose, just like them. This was a wise, old goose. He spoke to the domesticated geese of the world beyond the meadow. A wide world under a wider sky. A wild world which was home to the wild geese, who flew freely to their winter and summer homes. He spoke of how the wild geese helped each other, learning the stories of their ancestors through their elders, and passing on the stories so that all would know how to find their way across the trackless sky.
The tame geese were entranced by these tales of the beautiful world beyond their meadow. The old goose spoke to them of freedom and flight, and shared the stories of his ancestors. He reminded the geese that they too had wings. What were wings for, but to fly with? And the tame geese looked to the skies and once again were restless.
One morning the geese woke up and found the old goose gone. They searched the meadow but found no sign of him. They looked to the empty sky and wondered. They stretched their wings and felt them catch the air. But the sky was so vast they were unsure. Maybe tomorrow they would try. And the farmer brought them good corn to eat, and the days warmed into spring. And the geese did not fly.”
There are many ways to explore this story in the context of our modern day lives, and some of the questions it often evokes are:
When did we allow ourselves to become domesticated?
When did we stop listening to our wise elders?
When did we forget our own medicine, our own gifts, our own power?
In the story, it is the calling of the wild geese which awakens unrest in the domesticated flock. In some traditions the wild goose is a symbol for spirit; that which flies free and unfettered. Perhaps then, when we feel unrest in our day to day lives, and experience a deep yearning within ourselves, it is because a part of us has awakened to the voice of our Wild Soul, which is calling and calling and calling to us.
This presents a challenge: How do we answer the call?
It is the calling of our Wild Soul which invites to return home to ourselves. To re-member who we are. To give ourselves permission to Be. In so doing we naturally begin to give expression to our True Self, and begin to share the gifts we were born into this life with.
This sounds easy enough does it not? And yet many of us, just like the domesticated geese in the story, decide not to heed the call, to remain in the safety of the known, and to forget we were ever born with wings.
We are all aware that our outer lives present a mirror of our inner lives. For some of us this is an uncomfortable truth. But herein lies the key to our freedom, for we all have the gift of being free to do our inner work.
To answer the call of our Wild Soul is an act of faith and courage. It will take all of your Self. And I mean this literally. This can mean facing your fears and inner demons, and recognizing them as aspects of your shadow self. Through working with them they can prove to be the most powerful inner allies you could wish for. They can not only help you find your courage, but aid you in discernment, in true-seeing. They will remind you of your boundaries, of your personal power, and that you have a choice in everything you do. And this choice begins with how you care for yourself, how you tend to every aspect of your being. This is a healing journey, and through it you will remember both compassion and courage.
As you begin to fully embody your True Self, also look to build strong and nurturing relationships in your outer day to day life. Begin to create an inner and outer web of support. If you have the skill of shamanic journeying, work with your own spirit allies for they will help you in this task. If something in your life is sapping your energy, seek to release it, or to change the nature of your relationship with it.
You may not know exactly what your wild soul is calling you to do, but you can hear the direction it is calling you in. Just as wild geese fly in arrow head formations, pointing their way across the trackless sky, so does the voice of your wild soul act as a compass.
Each day, every day take a step in that direction. Feel how your steps become lighter as you do so. Stretch your wings and build those flight muscles. Answering the call of your Wild Soul may not be an easy journey, but it is one you were born to make.
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting ~
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
~ Mary Oliver