Soul Matters – by Kate Ingram
The other morning I sat down to my bowl of homemade muesli, sprinkled it with hemp and chia seeds, and doused it in almond milk. I stared at it and thought, I never imagined in a million years that I would be eating raw muesli with almond milk—and liking it. And from there I began to ponder how my life really isn’t anything I imagined it would be, once upon a time. Nothing I planned ever happened and a million things I never imagined or planned have come to pass. I never thought I’d not be into sugar, never dreamed I’d live in an 1880s house in my small hometown, never dreamed I’d be the sort of woman who would find herself in an abusive relationship, or widowed, never wanted to be the “old” parent like I had, yet wound up having children in my forties. Twenty years ago I would have flat-out denied the possibility that I would be an intuitive, metaphysical, prayer-flags-and-tarot-cards-sort-of-gal, but here I am. I didn’t dream in a million years that I’d have a million dollars, and neither did I ever imagine I’d be digging coins out of the car seat to pay for my kid’s pizza day at school, but both things have happened.
One of my favorite quotations, taped onto my desk where it is faded and worn, is from E.M. Forster. “We must be willing to let go of this life we have planned in order to have the life that is waiting for us.” I am reminded of this as I stare at my bowl of seeds in my little Victorian house where I am raising my late-life children and practicing as a soul coach, writing about my life and what I feel is truly important. My life looks nothing like I imagined it would, but it feels pretty wonderful. Over time I’ve let go of who I thought I was and who I thought I had to be to be okay. I let go of the BMW and the doctoral degree and the traditional practice. I let go of my judgments and became more curious and less fearful, and what emerged was bigger and better and more bodacious that I could have possibly dreamed or even imagined. Did I imagine that I would write a book? No. Did I dream that Deepak Chopra would possibly endorse my book? Never. Do I still imagine myself in a Tuscan villa in a vineyard being interviewed on the phone by NPR about my book? Yes, I do.
My life is not all great, not by a long shot: there are huge challenges and things I wish were very different, but the point is that life’s always going to be different, one way or another, from what your little mind can imagine, and that’s a good thing. Do you really want to imagine the bumps you’re going to hit? I don’t. Do you really want to know ahead of time the incredible joy and surprises that await you? Not I. It’s easier and more fun to allow life to unfold and to unfold along with it, being true to who you really are in each moment and attending to whatever presents itself to you.
As I transition through this dark passage of the year, I imagine what life will look like without my mother in it, and what opportunities might be waiting for me just around the literary bend, and how my children and my marriage will evolve as we all grow and change, but the truth is, I don’t know. Not really. But I do know that if I stay present and attentive and cry when my heart is breaking and smile as it fills with joy, that the life that is waiting for me will find me a willing participant, and that everything will all be exactly as it should be, and exactly as it always wanted to be, Tuscan villa or no.
I’m not as eloquent as E.M. Forster, but I like to think that there are two kinds of people: those who think they know, and those that know they don’t. I’m happy to say that I’ve switched camps. It’s better over here. We have muesli.
KATE INGRAM, M.A., is a writer, therapist, and soul coach. Her new book, Washing the Bones: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Transformation, is now available at Terra Firma and on Amazon.com. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please go to www.katherineingram.com.