THE QUIET VOICE

catnmouseA few nights ago, I participated in a Keystone Cop routine in which Darter and I both wildly scrambled to catch a mouse that had come in with the kindling box.  My cat and I often find ourselves in this clumsy two-step. First, the mouse bolts out of somewhere and becomes visible to both of us. Darter and I run toward the mouse, me with a coffee mug to put over it, and she with her talons. The mouse darts out and scurries somewhere else. We follow. And follow and follow.

Eventually, one of us catches the mouse. This has gotten me to thinking. Why—when the mouse is clearly out of reach behind the fridge or the fireplace, or under the cushy chair—does that little creature insist on racing out into the open again and again? I see the same antics going on with the chipmunks in the old windfall pile: Darter comes sniffing around, a chipmunk darts into the brush, then keeps coming out and darting off again and again. Often, Darter catches it. Then, I have to go catch Darter…

Why do some creatures seemed compelled to keep bolting in front of the predator? Surely, they have instincts about such things. Where is that “quiet voice within” that ought to be telling the critter to stay put?

It is no great leap for me when confronted by this cat-and-mouse game to ask myself, “Why do I manage to keep putting myself in front of the predator? Where is that instinct, that little quiet voice, that cherishes my safety? Am I not listening, or is it not speaking?”

When I use the word predator, I am thinking about any force that steps in our path to devour us in some way. Sometimes it is a job that does not suit us, and seems to eat us a little more each day. Sometimes it is a relationship (friend or family) that is constantly trying to munch us in small or big bites. Sometimes it is the voice of our own fears that gobbles the life out of us.

The skill of listening for that “quiet voice” that has my best interest at heart is something I’ve been consciously practicing for years. Sometimes now, I hear it loud and clear. Other times, I don’t know what I’m listening to: ego, fear, over-thinking, exhaustion, pride? Yet, if a mouse keeps running into the face of destruction, how can I hope to avoid the predator? The mouse has far more keenly honed instincts than I!

I have imagined that once I get this right, that is, once I can hear the quiet voice all the time, life will be much easier and smoother. I’ll know what is the right thing to do! All the time! Yet those small rodents—those fine-tuned little bundles of instinct, focus, and wit—seem to be telling me something about the predator that makes me uncomfortable. Maybe we are not meant to always “know” or to evade that which is trying to put claws in us. How can this be? I am thrown back onto my mantra of “I don’t know—it’s a mystery to me…Ommm.”

Many years ago, I “knew” down in the very core of my bones that my first book, “Animals as Teachers and Healers,” was going to be a New York Times #1 Bestseller. I just knew it, as deeply as I’d ever known anything. And then, I would be financially safe forever after. My book never made it to #1. It did make it to the top 25, and sit there for a week or so. But not #1, so my financial security was not in the bag. And I flat-out quit believing in my quiet voice. It has spoken loudly, and incorrectly. If I was wrong about so deep a knowing, I could no longer believe in my ability to intuit anything correctly.

The mouse trumps me, though. The mouse tells me that human intuition—just like the instinct of all things stalked—is never a guarantee of safety or ease. Yes, we may know, but the hands that forged us know more and know better. This does not mean that there is no quiet voice, nor that this voice is not worth careful and earnest cultivation. Perhaps my intuition is spot on these days, but the larger hands that hold the universe feel compelled to fling some predators of one form or another into my path now and again. And I’ll get grabbed. And if I am lucky, someone like me will pull me from the sharp claws as I do Darter’s small prey, and perhaps I’ll be patched up to scurry on into another day.

cindyA NOTE: Kindred Spirit Cindy suggested to me several weeks back that I begin a weekly discussion on topics we Family members might like to discuss together. At my request, she suggested a page full of wonderful potential topics. Intuition—recognizing it from “the other voices”—was one suggestion, and between that and the mouse, here you have it!

So, Family and friends, how do you know when you are hearing that “quiet voice,” and not all the noisy others? What are some of your challenges to hearing your intuition? Tell us your stories of success and of stumbling. We need to hear them…

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7 Responses to THE QUIET VOICE

  1. Carter says:

    Many years ago, thuring that 60s age of experiment, someone said to me “There is no answer. Seek it lovingly.” I held that truth for many years. Recently I had the epiphony that the answer is Mystery. There are many things we know and more we can know, with some effort. But those things are far outweighed by the things we can never know. The never can know is Mystery.

    No matter how hard I work, I think I’ll never know how a particle also can be a wave until we observe it when it becomes one or the other and after the observation it is again both. Entanglement? How can it be that an action “over here” can affect something “over there” instantly. From our perspective, light travels instantly, but it doesn’t. Light has a measurable speed that nothing can exceed except, when it comes to entanglement. Instantly means faster than the speed of light.

    It ios easy to put aside mathematics or physics that is out of our ken. It is somewhat harder to give it over to Mystery when it comes to things in our lives that affect us deeply. We staqrt asking “Why?” Why me, why my father, why Blackie. Then, there is no answer but Mystery. Seek It lovingly. Mystery holds all answers, whether we know it or not.

  2. Chris Davis says:

    Susan, what beautiful and thought-provoking words. It reminded me of one of my favorite quotes by Rainer Maria Rilke:

    “Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.”

    • Susan McElroy says:

      Chris, that Rilke quote is one of my favorite of all times. The truth of the universe is in those words!

  3. Cindy says:

    I must say that reading the Rilke quote was just what I needed today! Stay with the questions. Yes. If we were given the answers right now, when we wanted them, we wouldn’t be able to absorb them because we wouldn’t be ready. I trust that something greater then I knows me better then I do, and when I am ready, the teacher will appear…..

    Thank you, much love and gratitude to the gentle souls that post their thoughts and feelings here. It’s always in perfect measure.

  4. Ingrid says:

    I rely on my “gut feeling to tell me whether I’m listening to my intuition or not. Most of the time it’s as simple as making the distinction between what feels good and what doesn’t – if it feels good, that’s my intuition telling me to go ahead. If it doesn’t feel quite right, it’s telling me to wait, or to do something else.

    It’s when I listen to the voices outside myself – perhaps that’s what you call the predators in your example – that things go wrong. Then it becomes a challenge to weed out all the other voices from the quiet voice inside. And sometimes, in that process of weeding out, something might jump in and grab me, like you did with Darter’s prey – and to me, that something is inspiration. And inevitably, I’ll start hearing the quiet voice inside again and all is well.

  5. Cindy says:

    All…

    Today my friend, who knows me very well, sent me these quotes. I had mentioned to her my “needing to know” things/stuff/life, and these were her gentle response to me. Perfect, I would say…..the teachers are all around us.

    “It began in mystery, and it will end in mystery, but what a savage and beautiful country lies in between”.
    Diane Ackerman, from “A Natural History of the Senses”

    And……

    “When we deliberately leave the safety of the shores of our lives, we surrender to a mystery beyond our intent”.
    Ann Linnea, from “Deep Passage”

    I think my new intent now is to get out of the way of my own life, to step out of the way of my “knowing” self and into the space where Mystery is embraced and celebrated. A place where intuition runs wild and free and uninhibited by our need to see ahead, figure it out or seek the proverbial safety net.

    For me, this would be the ultimate letting go……..

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