We Are Stardust
by Michelle Fairchild
Most of us have heard of the term soul’s calling. This idea regarding a soul’s calling is commonly thought to be about our soul’s purpose in the arena of the work we do or the things we accomplish. There is much written and workshops galore about how one can find this calling or higher purpose in life. I have been reading the writing of Mark Nepo, and he caught my attention when he made a distinction between a Soul’s Calling and something called the Call of the Soul. Here is how he so poetically describes it for us.
“While the soul’s calling helps us discover our life’s work,
the call of the soul is a continual call to aliveness.
Both are important. Like being and doing,
like giving and receiving,
these two deep calls are inextricable aspects
of the energy of Oneness,
a spiritual form of wind and calm.”
~ Mark Nepo
I sat with this passage for some time. It led me to wonder about these two ways of looking at life. On the one hand you have the Soul’s Calling, this idea that we have a purpose or something significant to do during our time here on earth. On the other hand you have this profound Calling of the Soul, a suggestion that our souls are here to simply experience aliveness. I found myself contemplating how these two ways of looking at the existence of our soul can affect how we see our own identity and even our very reason for existing as a sentient being.
Let’s explore the concept of identity together. What initially comes to mind when you are asked the question “Who are you?”
There are probably many immediate answers that are summoned from within you. We are raised in our cultures to identify ourselves in various categories. Our identities, as we grow into children, teens and adults, are influenced by such things as our families, friends, gender, relationships, communities, country of origin, ethnicity, beliefs, sexual orientation, interests, appearance, values, interests, hobbies, work, education, creations, choices, practices and habits.
When asked the question “Who are you?” it is quite common that these first identifiable characteristics come to mind. For example, if asked this question by someone I could answer in a myriad of ways. If my focus was on my gender, I might respond that I am a woman, a mother, a sister, a daughter, and a wife. If my focus was on education and career, I might choose to share about my university degrees and my job title. I am also a member of a creative community, and it is possible I could prefer to share how I identify myself as a Cosmic Cowgirl, a writer and an artist.
Yet, in the very beginning, who were you? Who was I? Does our identity continually change throughout our lives, or is there perhaps something deeper, something more soulful and intrinsic to our very beings? I marvel at new little human babies and I wonder, where did they come from? Where did both you and I come from before we were here? Did we even exist before we arrived here?
Have you ever studied a photo of yourself as a baby? This one below is of me in the first months of my life. I delight in the obvious joy that shines forth from this photo. There is this look of such happiness and excitement in my eyes. What could I have know of this world at 5 months old? What came to me after reading these words “the call of the soul is a continual call to aliveness,” was that this photo was showing so clearly that the call of my new little soul was simply to experience the joy of being alive.
It is moving to me emotionally to consider that we need only tap into the intrinsic call of our soul to ignite a joy for being alive. Trust me, I know from my own dark nights of the soul, my losses and my heartaches, that life can be hard, and even seem cruel at times. My path has included days, months and even a few years where I questioned wanting to go on, so I do know that sometimes joy seems elusive and distant.
Yet what has been revealing itself to me through the course of my life is that we are so much more than our gender, our appearance, our ethnicity, our country of origin, our religious beliefs, our political leanings and so forth. We are more than our jobs, our creations, or our accomplishments. While some of those things play a part in our identity, in our potential legacy and in fulfilling some greater sense of purpose, say our “Soul’s Calling,” there is more to all of us than what we do or how we look or what we believe.
Acknowledging and really seeing who you are, who I am, and who we all are, I suspect is much more profound than we have yet to fathom with our limited view and perspective of the awe inspiring Universe. However, there are some enlightened souls who have walked among us and who have shared insight into a deeper understanding regarding life on this planet. There are individuals who have, and still are, attempting to comprehend our Universe. While one may immediately think of spiritual and religious figures, we are also indebted to the remarkable scientists who have opened up whole new vistas of understanding for us. One such person is Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson who explains a most fascinating fact about our connection to one another and to the entire Universe:
“The atoms of our bodies are traceable to stars that manufactured them in their cores and exploded these enriched ingredients across our galaxy, billions of years ago. For this reason, we are biologically connected to every other living thing in the world. We are chemically connected to all molecules on Earth. And we are atomically connected to all atoms in the universe. We are not figuratively, but literally stardust.”
Imagine that. Can you wrap your mind around the reality that both you and I are literally made of stardust? How does an identity of being made of stars feel when you try it on? Do you stand a little taller? Does it blow your mind, just a little, or maybe a lot? Does it make you want to swagger or maybe just stare up at the night sky and say “Why hello there my friend, I had no idea we were related?” I personally am sometimes moved to tears when I contemplate these things. I identify a great deal with Neil deGrasse Tyson when he looks up at the night sky:
“I look up at the night sky, and I know that, yes, we are part of this Universe, we are in this Universe, but perhaps more important than both of those facts is that the Universe is in us. When I reflect on that fact, I look up—many people feel small, because they’re small and the Universe is big, but I feel big, because my atoms came from those stars.”
A great astronomer of our era, Carl Sagan, once stated “For as long as there have been humans we have searched for our place in the cosmos. Where are we? Who are we?” Contemplating who we are is part of being human. After traveling through an exploration of the Soul’s Calling, the Calling of the Soul and exploring how we are literally made of stardust has your thoughts about who you are changed at all? I know that my answers have changed over the course of my lifetime. I can look back and see now how my identity was so wrapped up in how others viewed me. I lived in a tunnel for many years in which my value depended on the approval of others. For too many years I believed that my appearance was one of the keys to being loved and accepted as worthy.
What I now know is that how we identify and define ourselves is up to each one of us. Someone else’s opinions, perspectives and views always says more about them, than it does about you or me. My views have expanded greatly regarding my own identity. When I look back at the baby photo featured above I see a shining soul. That same soul that arrived in April of 1969 still resides within me. I see that soul shining forth in photos taken just yesterday. I may take on various identities throughout the course of my life, or even in a day, as I move from being a mom, to an office manager, to a writer, to a music mixer and so on; yet what I carry in my heart is that I am a soulful being first and foremost. Since we are made of stardust, I also suspect very strongly now, that the light that shines forth from my eyes, and yours too, is really starlight.
For your listening and viewing pleasure Symphony of Science presents
We Are Star Dust
Michelle Fairchild is married to a middle school science teacher and is also mama to identical twin daughters, who are very active 7-year-olds that keep her dancing. She is a writer and artist who has a business called Red Boa Productions. She also works for a non-profit foster-adoption agency in Northern California. At Heart she is a soulful and sensitive intuitive, a courageous creator, a resilient visionary, a self-esteem fluffer, a marvelous music mixer and one who offers up bridges of connections to her fellow travelers. She believes We Are All Meant to Shine! You can learn more about Michelle’s vision and read more of her writing on her blog The Red Boa.