I am evicting a word from my life. It has a single syllable at its heart, monotonous as a crow’s caw, a sneaky saboteur of internal authority and a thief of life-lust.
If I could pull the absolute nub of the word out of the air and rip it into a million pieces, then scatter it to the winds, never to be uttered again, I would do it.
This word is not mine. The voice I hear wielding it is not my own. It is a parasite, has hijacked me, hitched a ride and colonised a part of my psyche in which it is not welcome, yet there it squats, like a bad-breathed, big-bellied tenant, lolling on the couch and belching loudly. From its Trump-esque perch it pronounces one-eyed judgements and opinions, a self-proclaimed authority on what’s best. Its strident musings keep me from hearing my own wild and perfect song.
Are you also tyrannised by this sneaky reflection of a parent, a sibling, a long-forgotten teacher? Maybe a great grandmother, deep back in your line, coiled in your DNA, is whispering, as she was whispered to, that you ''should'' behave, be good, tidy up, keep your voice down. Perhaps the angry father whose whip-snap judgements peppered your childhood is so internalised, that even though his fire is now quenched and he is soft and loving with the grandkids, in your mind his bark has become so real it feels eternally true.
The voice of ''should'' is never satisfied, and disguises itself as our own, a stealthy cuckoo-child kicking out our own healthy instincts and desires until the only audible sound is in its hungry demands. Enough is never enough. There is always one more thing, one more task, one more shape we must contort into to keep it satisfied, and it views our efforts and is never sated.
My true voice has wings. When I harken to it the day spreads out before me full of promise and mystery. I get to trip over my own feet, learn from experience, am not afraid to make mistakes, to get it spectacularly wrong, then make it right, my way. I hear the moon hum in the sky and wonder what she is thinking. I get to be rather than do. I ask a question, the best question, a hundred times a day.
What is right, for me, right now?
Not next week, not when the do is done… right now.
Can I put down the washing up, shut the computer, turn my face toward the call of the day? Can I give myself that bath, that walk on the beach, that holiday with my man?
What is right for me, right now? and now? and now?
Individual moments become stepping stones I leap between, from rightness to rightness, as opportunities present themselves and now I have the eyes to see them, have an open heart uncluttered by obligation so I say yes to the smallest things, and through that, to the largest. I can switch direction in a wingbeat, and blessed be, change my mind. I have freedom to bank and swerve and swoop.
When I see 'should' for the dried up invader that it is, the world sparkles in iridescent colours, like the reflection of sunrise on the ocean, cut into confetti, each glimmer a different hue. I am free to dare, to believe, to taste and touch and try. My shackles fall away and the sky beckons, the horizon calls and I am in partnership with myself, warts and all.
These days I am ever vigilant, watchful as a wren. I observe this ‘'should'’ who tries to sneak into my centre, to undermine my internal authority, pretending to have my best interests at heart.
There it lurks, my own inner autocrat, a tepid tyrant, ready to lean on any chink in my self confidence, slither through the cracks in my self worth, and deny me that gorgeous rush of rightness that floods my eyes when I am truly on my path.
If you, like me, have this unwelcome lodger, I propose some spring cleaning. Evict that musty tenant, dump her unceremoniously on the street clutching her motley and monocle and vast swathes of knitting. Throw open all the doors and windows and beat the dust out of the rugs. Place fresh flowers on the table, daffodils and poppies and freesias to wind their heady scent through your awakening soul. Then sit down in the sunshine and begin, slowly and gently, to sing. Your voice may feel rusty at first, tears may follow, but keep singing through the gravel and dust, through the unused years, until your voice starts to run clear as new water and you recognise your own perfect song, fragile and subtle and utterly yours.