Friday, November 28, 2014

Where lies my soul?

That old rock and roller Jerry Lee Lewis is now 79 years old and married to his 7th wife. He says this wife, #7, is his “soul mate.” I’m reading his biography—quite an interesting book, especially since it is written by Rick Bragg, one of my favorite writers. (Rick Bragg is the quintessential southern writer, a modern Faulkner in my humble opinion. Jerry Lee couldn’t have chosen a better writer to pen his biography.) So it took Jerry Lee seven tries to find his soul mate. Whatever . . . if that’s what he needs, who am I to question him. I’m glad he’s happy.

The question of the soul, what it is, where it is, has been on my mind. It snowed here last night and it snowed two days ago. But, like some sort of meteorological miracle, five days ago was a glorious day—sun shining, temperature in the mid-70s—like some last bittersweet reminder that we are heading in to the long haul of a cold, damp winter. In a stroke of pure good luck, I went to the Chesapeake Bay on that last glorious day, to the place where I spent my childhood summers on the western shore of the Bay. There was no one on the beach but my childhood friend and me. We walked in the sand, and I waded into the cool water of the Bay up to my shins. I found one puny little shark’s tooth, but even that miniscule fossil was enough to make me smile. Even today, I found sand in the shoes I wore that day. I left those last few grains in the shoes, just because I could. 

I stood on the shore five days ago, looking across the wide expanse of Bay, choking back tears. I was with a friend I knew back then who still lives there. She said, “It really gets inside of you, doesn’t it? It gets into your soul.”

I agreed. I can’t understand or explain what it is about that expanse of water, why it brings tears to my eyes, why it tugs at me some 50 years after I regularly spent time there. If something can indeed occupy a spot in my soul, that beach on the Chesapeake Bay is firmly planted.

This soul that I’m trying to understand is not the soul in the immortal sense, not the center of my devotion to God. It is a different aspect of the soul, the essence of my mortal fiber. It is something else, something I feel but can’t define or adequately describe.

Ever since that time on the Bay earlier this week, I’ve been thinking about moving away. I consider moving to the shores of the Bay. But that life 50 years ago has gone and perhaps moving there would end up feeling empty. That time, that home, no longer exists. What is this longing of my soul and is there anywhere on the face of the Earth that would feel like home to me? I’m feeling restless, like I want to find that sense of peace and connection to the Earth that I haven’t felt since. And there’s also something in me that makes me want to move far away and start over, fresh, leaving the troubles of the past years far, far behind me.

I don’t know. I honestly don’t know. Adventurousness is a quality outside my range of thinking. But there’s this nagging feeling, this restless soul that won’t let me rest in peace.

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