There’s a quote from 13th century Persian poet, Rumi, that says “respond to every call that excites your spirit”.
Once I was 18 years old. And I was with my friends on a beach off the Gulf of Mexico. The water was calm so we decided to swim out to sand bar a few hundred feet out. Seemed like a fun thing to do and we were able-bodied, athletic kids. We waded through the waves until we could no longer touch the ocean floor then we picked up our feet and started swimming. We swam and we swam. The shore grew further and further. I started to tire. We surmised that we must be close, we just had to swim a little further. I was exhausted. I was struggling. But we were so close. Once we reached that sand bar we could stop treading water and sink our feet into the sand below and stand and have fun and laugh until we were reenergized enough to swim back. But there came a point when we realized we’d gone too far. It was high tide. There was no sandbar. We were so deep into the ocean that the people laying on towels and sitting on beach chairs looked so small. You couldn’t hear them speak or yell or hear their music. I was gasping for air, panting, treading water. There was no moment of rest. All I felt was electric fear. You have to push and swim all the way back. You don’t have a choice. So I stopped thinking about how out of breath I was. About how exhausted I was. Rhythmically with each arm I tore into the water kicking my legs with as much force as they could generate. I saw the shore and kept rowing my arms until it got closer.
In those moments, I felt divinely alive.
Nowadays I just exhaust myself in a bright gym playing top-40 radio after a day of fluorescent hospital lights and monitors beeping and the groans of human beings in physical pain and the sounds of traffic and my air conditioning blowing. I have to escape. Reset the soul. Respond to every call that excites your spirit, right. Well right now my spirit is telling me I must return to the forest.
I want to jump off a cliff, feel the stomach drop thrill of gravity pulling me back to the earth. Crash into the cold fresh water. Stay submerged with whatever creatures lie beneath unbeknownst to me and hold my breath until I can’t any longer. Resurface and inhale the cleanest air that has ever entered my lungs. Feel god breath life into my little alveoli. Sprint through woodland terrain past the coniferous trees, leaping over rocks under the summer sun. Exhaust myself completely until I collapse on earth’s natural floor. I want to jump in the rapids and let them toss me around like a chew toy in a dogs mouth. Emerge adorned in cuts and bruises. Cook various meats and fresh fish over a open fire. Sip scotch and ponder life while gazing into black night sky dotted with the bright stars.
My soul is craving this. Is this too much to ask.