When the idea for the Center for Art, Humor & Soul came together in these 5 words, it was a natural merging. It just came together like they belonged with each other. But until recently, the board of directors hadn't looked at what these words mean to us and what we embody as an organization dedicated to creative edgewalkers from which emergent art, humor and soul arise. I'm one of the founding members of the CAHS board of directors, and I've witnessed how this organization is like a living organism - finding its shape and deeper meaning as we take each step. Like living into our name.
At our last board meeting, we had a discussion around what we each mean by soul, and what is it about the mission of CAHS that values soul. We shared up to 5 descriptive words, or a sentence, that most aligns with our own understanding of soul. Here's a sampling of some of our sharing:
The Truth of who we are
What gives us life
Deviation from the norm
What connects us to the earth
Totally me but deeply connected
Fragile and resilient
My deepest "being"
The divine within
My True Self
The immaterial inner light
The direct and personal experience with the Divine
Our inner Self reflected in our passions, gifts and character
The Divine imprint that is uniquely and vibrantly experienced both internally and externally
Our deepest essence
Our infinite self
Our unique embodied essence
Interconnection with Divine Source
Bullshit. In the sense that it is separate from or superior to the body.
Impressive list of descriptors that seem to capture the continuity and the contrast of understanding this elusive word. The word soul has many connotations in western culture, and there doesn't seem to be one agreed upon definition about what it means, what it is, and what the human relationship with soul is. Is it the same as spirit? Where does the soul come from and where does it go when we die? Do animals have souls? Does music have soul? Art? This blog doesn't seek to answer all of these questions, or any of them really. The goal is to start a conversation, an exploration, about a word and a principle or reality that seems ineffable.
The origins of the word soul are also somewhat vague. A few definitions are the "spiritual and emotional part of a person", "animate existence," "life, living, being." I've read somewhere that the word originally means, "coming from or belonging to the sea." I like this - coming from the sea. The primordial sea? The deep watery womb of the world? This kind of mythology and mystery speaks a language better understood in deep time. And soul seems to originate from deep time.
One of the hallmarks of CAHS is our dedication to supporting edgewalkers - those people on the edges of norms and traditions. Whether that is social norms, gender norms, racial norms, sexual norms, religious norms, all the norms... those considered "outside" of established ways of being or thinking from the dominant world. So how can soul serve the world from a non-dominant perspective during this time of radical social, political, and planetary change? How do we be part of what is emergent, on the edges, to serve as a conduit of transformative and creative change?
As we witness the collapsing of old structures and systems, and the anxiety and fear inherent to the present and coming challenges, it seems imperative that we be attuning to "how" we position ourselves to not just survive, but to create a new society that is life-giving for all peoples and for the planet. This level of creativity doesn't come from what is already known. But this extended liminal space we find ourselves in - in-between what has been and what is not yet, is full of potentiality and pure creativity. The soul has access to what has been and what is not yet, not bound by time and space. But how do we access this part of ourselves that is inherent to who and what we are, but most of us don't remember exists? Most of us are habituated to living from our minds, from our conditioning and old patterns, from our wounds, from our small self. Because that's what we've learned.
But another way to orient to life has been rising. Life continues to evolve humanity, not just from the outside with technology and civilization and good ideas, but also from the inside as more people are becoming aware of the inner universe. The Soul.
If soul is the spiritual part of what it means to be human, where inspiration and creativity arise from, then it seems important to integrate spiritual edgewalking as the basis of what it means to be human, to create and to connect on a deeper level. Each one of us is creative at our core. We create all the time but we may not see it. Your life right now is a creation you've shaped and drawn to you. Are you happy with it? Do you experience joy? Do you allow all the emotions that come with living a life - not bound by them and not denying them? Do you feel a connection with the earth, with others, with your truest Self, with God/Divine/Creator?
Stay tuned for more blogs, and more exploration around how we can more fully live from our whole Self, access our creative essence, connected with our soul. Let us know what resonates with you when you feel or hear or experience soul. This can be a fun, expansive, meaningful conversation...just allow some curiosity and open hearted listening within and around.