friend, Mary, was dying. We
knew it; we also knew that each visit, each conversation was bringing us
quickly to the moment after which there would not be a “next time.”
Mary had decided to forego any more of the treatments that were
robbing her of life and vitality as much, if not more than, the process
of disease. She seemed so at
peace and calm. I asked,
“How did you come to the decision?”
replied that, years ago, a wise man had told her to imagine a small,
gnome-like man on a three-legged stool in the general area of her solar
plexus, just below her heart. Whenever
she had a troubling problem, she could go inward, find the little man,
and tell him what action or decision she was considering.
He, in silence, would think for a while.
If she was to go a different direction, he would say nothing to
break the silence. If the
answer was affirmative, he would say “Paint it green, Mary!” and she
would know to proceed. She
said this process had never failed her.
wondered: Could it really be
that simple? “Life is
often so complicated,” I moaned inwardly.
complication had long been a specialty of mine.
Life’s challenges seemed frequently to present in the form of
convoluted, maze-like meanderings that led only to more frustration and
more unanswerable questions. Ethics
seemed to be tangled webs of dead-end thoughts and multi-level
considerations that led nowhere. It’s
doubtful that I was the only human on the planet who spent years going
from book to book, guru to guru, church to church to no-church.
The bottom line, found only by choosing between yes/no,
do/don’t do, in/out, inevitably got lost in endless explorations of
teachings and techniques.
would be years before I could begin to see that the lovely complexities
of life are all too often converted into overwhelming complications by
all these well-intentioned efforts. Complications can spawn compulsions, and—when this
happens—the potential becomes great for losing the self to the
agonizing process of trying to cope with a world that makes no sense.
many of us—despite our best (and often desperate) efforts— find
ourselves in chronic states of indecision, confusion and fear.
Finally, we come to the place where there’s nowhere left to
turn but in the direction that was there all the time:
Inward. The fact is,
that the only guidance we can ever really trust is to be found within;
and that which is heard there, as a “still small voice” to some, may
register as a thundering command to another, and as a gentle urging or
attraction to yet another.
inner guidance is not to be confused with “feelings”
Emotions do color in the line drawings of thoughts and lend
vibrancy, and an energy, that is indispensable to a creative life. They
are, however, highly overrated as a singular source of direction and
“feel-good generation” has often had to bear the long-term
consequences of living by the mandate of, “If it feels good, do it.”
When we know what we know, that knowing is marked by clarity and
calm. As an old hymn intones, “When peace, like a river, floods
over my soul…”
is a powerful source of guidance and direction in each of us, and it is
simply and easily accessed by going within.
Does it really matter whether that source and its messenger(s)
are called Intuition, Jesus, Buddha, the voice of God, animal guides or
a 12-step program — or something else?
Not to those who regularly access their own sense of direction
and purpose in this way. Not
it green, Mary!" Paint it green, indeed.
Lexie Tyus, L.I.S.W. has
maintained a private practice for 30 years in the Columbus area,
providing counseling and psychotherapy to individuals and couples,
specializing in Mood Disorders, Trauma, Addictions Aftercare, Spiritual
Issues, and Work-Related Stress. She
also provides training in the Business and Professional Communities,
focusing on Effective Management and Team Functioning.