But no answer came.
And then one day, when I least expected it, after a long run around the neighborhood, a crystal clear voice said, "You know what to do." The voice was strong and reassuring. But I didn't feel strong and I didn't feel I was any closer to knowing what I was meant to do in this world.
I wanted to follow that voice. I wanted to know it intimately. I wanted to understand where it came from. What if I went the wrong way? What if I did the wrong things? What if I made mistakes? What if people didn't like what I was doing?
I was afraid. I didn't have any answers. I made a lot of mistakes in life (and I'm still making them). I fell down quite a bit. I was not a happy person and I didn't respect myself nor did I believe I had anything positive to offer the world. Still, I could not forget that clear voice that came to me on that fall day of my senior year in high school while running down a narrow path flanked with bright orange and yellow maple leaves. The air was crisp, but the late sun shone on my face and filled me with an incredible warmth. But it did not last.
After high school I traveled all over the world searching for that voice. I traveled to Mexico, South America, Asia, India, etc. I meditated, I practiced yoga and once again, in deep silence, I basked in that inner warmth and stillness I had felt for those few moments in high school. For a time, I attributed these feelings to a certain practice. I believed that something outside me--the environment, an organization, a teacher, a guru, God--made me feel like this. Without this practice or a certain environment, I thought that this peace and this joy could not last.
I don't know exactly when things changed. I don't recall the exact day when I understood that voice or when I overcame my fear. I think it was gradual. Meditation helped, yoga helped, walks in nature helped, writing helped, friends helped, books helped--I am grateful for so many things that aided me on my path and gave me the courage to open up.
But that voice. The one that said, "You know what to do." It didn't come from God or Buddha or yoga or meditation or my husband or my friends or my family or anything else. All of these people and things played a part in understanding these words.
"You know what to do," came from me.
Not the Katherine Jenkins "me," but the one that is opened and fearless. The one that is not separate. The one that is connected to everything.
Also on my blog Lessons from the Monk I Married