Written by: Angie Noll
|What if my whole life has really been wrong?
– Leo Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilyich
It was over a decade ago that I first read those powerful words written by Leo Tolstoy. I was completing my degree in Psychology at the University of South Africa whilst having a brief love affair with all things Russian, but especially with their literature.
It’s a question worth asking earlier in life rather than later. I didn’t want to be like Ivan Ilych, lying on my deathbed with the sudden realisation that I had lived the wrong life. A life that didn’t run according to my Soul’s purpose, but one wasted on complying with the expectations and limitations of others. Yet so many people choose to live the wrong life –a life laid out for them on a track composed of other people’s expectations or of some imaginary set of rules that they live by in order to be socially accepted, to be good enough. Many people start a life path for one reason, and continue on that path even when they know it is the wrong life for them because old mistakes are easier to deal with than new, unfamiliar ones; sometimes even easier to deal with than the possibility of success.
I hated the thought of living the wrong life for me, of wasting my time on earth, yet I found myself doing exactly that. Even though I didn’t know exactly what my purpose was, I had an inner vision of what it could be, which I chose to avoid because I didn’t know yet how to make it a reality. It seemed so impossible, so far away from where I was in my life at the time. I firmly believe that we always know everything we need to know – for now. As we grow more, we know more, so our inner wisdom is constantly updated with whatever we might need to know for the next step. It’s listening to that inner wisdom, however, that is the real problem.
My inner wisdom directed me to do something crazy, something radical to shake up my life, turn it upside down, and see what remains after the dust had settled, just to get rid of all the cobwebs and dust and old habits. I didn’t know what I expected to find, but I was keen to find out. ‘Be open to everything, and attached to nothing,’ as my greatest teacher, Wayne Dyer, was fond of saying.
But how does one do that? I knew deep inside of myself that if I didn’t take action and act on this inner guidance to clean out my life, shake it up and find the path of my Soul, to leave life as I know it behind and go far beyond the borders of my comfort zone, then I would eventually create a situation where I would be forced to examine who I am and whose life I am living in a manner that is beyond my control, such as through a serious illness. I knew I would get cancer if I didn’t take the reigns of my own spiritual awakening – and my life – in my own hands. This is not to say that all cancers have a spiritual cause, it was just the truth for me, at the time. My divine guidance nudged at me, willing me to voluntarily create a situation where I could really look at my life and somehow find the path back to my Soul’s purpose here on earth.
In response to this divine urging brewing inside of me, I decided that leaving the country I was born and raised in would be a sufficient jolt to my system, enough to spark a higher spiritual awareness and to set me on the path of my right life again. In my first attempt to break free from the confines of my comfort zone, I went to Switzerland. It was a half-hearted attempt to start a new life there because I couldn’t truly leave the safety of my life in South Africa behind. Not completely – so I kept one foot in South Africa, with my partner who was still there and would wait for me to see if things in Switzerland panned out or not, and one foot in Switzerland, where I managed to secure two job offers, but came up with a list of excuses for why I couldn’t accept either of them. I knew that I wasn’t ready for the big leap yet, so I went back to South Arica and picked up on my life as if nothing had happened. Two years later, I find myself in New Zealand instead – with both feet firmly planted here and no option of returning to South Africa.
In New Zealand, through over a year of existential angst and “dark nights of the Soul” I learnt one very important lesson, which was, essentially, the beginning of my Spiritual life. God doesn’t make mistakes. He didn’t create a faulty model when he made me – it was me who was living the wrong life up to now, one that came about by making choices out of fear instead of love. God to me is the Creator of all things, our Source of Divine Love, and not the Christian or religious concept of God. I also learnt that I had a God-given navigation system for my life, as we all do, called intuition (or sixth sense, inner wisdom, gut feel) and that I need little else to stay on the path of my right life. Cultivating the ability to listen to and follow my inner guidance on a daily basis has become a foundation of my life, and I couldn’t imagine living any other way.
Now, I know I am on purpose, doing what I came here to do and learning what I came here to learn.