“The work we do, the work our souls direct us to do, is a continuation of journeys begun long ago. We are merely the current stewards of the vessel…”
How old is your soul? I’ve long felt that much of our passions and our struggles are, to some extant, rooted in and driven by our souls. Specifically that part of our soul which we receive from others. Wait…’receive from others’? Yes. When most people die, I feel, their soul still has unfinished business. Paintings not yet painted, lessons not yet imparted, loves not fully realized, struggles not yet overcome, demons not yet defeated. I think that unfinished business is then tasked to a new user, a new crew for the vessel so to speak. Bits and pieces of that soul are added to the fabric of a newer, younger (perhaps even unborn) host to continue some of that work. I think some souls are ‘older’ than others and I’ve always been more strongly drawn to and connected to those special people who I encounter to seem to have ‘old souls’.
A photography friend of mine in Florida recently posted an image of her great grandmother. Before I even read her post, I was struck by the eyes in the photo. They were exactly like Kalebra’s eyes and my first thought was “she is rooted in those eyes”. In her post, Kalebra discussed how she was learning more about her great grandmother and was struck by the things they had in common (passions and struggles alike) and she wished she would have been able to know her.
I’ve had similar feelings about my Mom’s father (below), with whom I share quite a bit, eyes included. Like me, he was a photographer and a cyclist and a man of varied interests. I knew him when I was a boy, but he died when I was about 10. We were never really “buddies” the way I was with my Dad’s father. He had long been a smoker, and most of my memories of him were of a somewhat distant man weakened by emphysema.
He worked on, among other things, the development and implementation of electric vehicles in the 1960’s while a Vice President for Western Pennsylvania Power. He was a tinkerer. He was a magnificent photographer. Though he lived his whole life in the east, he had a long love affair with the great American West, especially the desert southwest. His dramatic landscape series of Monument Valley and Arizona helped shape my visual aesthetic at a very early age. My Mom has told me stories about how he loved to cycle, and often rode his bike dozens of hilly miles to and from Pittsburg.
When I was first getting into journalism, I had a story editor ask me for a list of 10 people I most wanted to interview. He clarified: “Can’t include Jesus or Hitler or Springsteen or Reagan [it was 1982] …someone you connect with and want to know and have a better understanding of.” My grandfather was in the middle of that list. Over the years, that list changed and my grandfather kept getting closer to the top.
I know that his is not the only soul which helps direct me, but I continue to feel his passions and his struggles moving the rudder more and more on this journey.
Here’s what I want to know: How old is your soul? What is the work that your soul directs you to do? How’s that coming?
Miles to go.