Some 15 years ago when I was committed to my career and worked as an executive manager in a listed financial services company, I suddenly started feeling the urge to paint (as in art not house walls or fences.)
It was easy to dismiss at first as a “crazy” idea. I wasn’t great at art in high school. I got a C-grade in the last ever art class I took in year 8. That made it go away for a while.
But it came back, like a little kid tugging at my pant legs trying to get my attention.
Go away, I told it annoyed that it was there again.
I’m not an artist. I’m not good at art
And that made it go quiet for a while.
But it came back again and again and kept nagging at me no matter how many times I tried to dismiss it until it became pretty insistent.
So I became curious about this urge to paint and inquired within myself. Why was this urge here? What did it want of me? What did it want me to know?
I discovered that I didn’t want to learn the techniques of painting but that I wanted to explore with paint and have fun with it. Although I didn’t really understand why I had the urge to paint I stayed open to the idea.
Eventually I found an intuitive painting workshop just down the road from me. My inner painting urge (aka my inner child) was pretty excited about the idea of this workshop, jumping up and down with glee. Although I felt a bit scared and nervous, I signed up and went.
It was subtly life changing.
The intuitive painting course reintroduced meditation back into my life as each session started with a gentle breath meditation that I loved. It was calming, loving and kind.
I rediscovered my creativity. I had actually always been a crafty child.
I remembered how to have fun again.
I learned to risk making mistakes and that any mistake I made in a painting just helped the painting to evolve in a different way.
Most importantly, I reconnected with my intuition that had gone AWOL for a while as I had overridden and ignored it so many times with my fearful and rationalising mind.
Just like we can override and dismiss our inner callings, we can also override, ignore, dismiss or rationalise the unexpected opportunities that life presents us.
Here is a short excerpt from my book, The Path We Make: a journey of the heart on the Via Francigena—in fact it is the opening paragraph of the book.
“Oh no! I’m not interested in walking that far. Ever!”
That was my response several years ago when my employer asked me to join a team that would walk 50 kilometres to raise money for the Leprosy Mission. I can’t help but laugh kindly at that younger version of myself who scoffed at the idea and was adamant that she would never walk that far. I don’t believe everything in our lives is predetermined, but there are some things that life wants us to experience. If at first we turn our backs on those things or head in a different direction, life has a miraculous way of finding an alternative way in or choosing another way to speak to us so that we hear and understand. It calls us forward again and again to come down the path it wants us to follow, until finally we say yes and take those steps.
Sometimes our callings will come in the form of inner urgings, curiosities, recurring thoughts and ideas. Sometimes they will come as opportunities, invitations, signs and coincidences from the world around us.
Often we will push them away, ignore or dismiss them and/or rationalise why we shouldn’t pay attention to them because they are foreign to the life that we know and are currently living and we aren’t yet ready to accept them into our field of possibilities.
Sometimes they scare us and we might not even recognise we are scared.
Often they will keep coming back—especially the ones that really want our care and focus.
When something flirts with you or you become aware of some recurring theme, sign, thought, urge or other pattern in your life— pay attention and get curious. At first they may seem irrational, crazy, foreign, silly, out-there, nonsensical or irrelevant, but you also don’t know what rich gifts they have for you or where they may lead you.
I’d love to hear your stories about what has called to you that you have dismissed until you finally had to listen and say yes.