The Brave Girl and The Soldier Boy
What was I listening to when I was sixteen? Cultural programming, or a message for my higher self? I’m thinking about one of my favorite songs of the time: “Soldier Boy” by the Shirelles. The song seems so simple, but to me it’s embedded with something very precious and beautiful… even archetypical.
Longing and promise, distance and nearness, the interplay of masculine/feminine polarities… inner and outer: can all of that be found in a pop tune?
While on the surface the song may seem to be little more than Vietnam era programming meant to give romance to war, the feeling of it dwells within the spiritual realm: dedication, devotion, loyalty, fidelity, reverence. How do we sort these words out? What is naturally rising, what is spiritual practice, what is external manipulation, what is liberating, what is divine, and what is the bottom line?
Some time ago I realized that ‘dedicated’ has kind of followed me through life. Looking back I see myself at age nine, reading, late into the night. And what was I reading? The Book of Revelations! Something in me knew that I was here to live through a change. Was it conditioning? Or a trajectory belonging to my higher self? I’m thinking maybe a good bit of both.
We’re all dedicated to one thing or another, even if our dedication is to apathy or flip-flopping. And our dedication will evolve with us. The dedicated soldier boy and the devoted girlfriend can reunite; they can decide their love has diminished; or they can experience the grievous consequence of war. So the longevity of the heart’s commitment depends not only upon a turn of fate, or who or what you love, but why you love what you love.
To get a little bit better grasp of the subject, let’s look at some of the other words I mentioned. Rather than thinking about definitions, I’d like to just check out how the word feels or what feeling memory is evoked in us when we hear and think about the word.
Devotion seems naturally rising to me, and I know it can be tricky. On one hand it resonates within our divinity: devotion born of aspiration. There is something to see, to know, to feel, to experience: aspiring to be our highest potential, i.e. climbing the stairway to heaven. In my own climb I have become devoted to certain teachers, drawn to the feeling that their information engenders, and that has been a beautiful thing. The heart knows when it meets itself in another.
On the other hand, we can go overboard with devotion, give ourselves away and end up with a ‘gotta repair my life’ experience. Ask yourself… is my aspiration rewarded here? If the answer is no, then step away. If it is yes, then don’t hesitate to reward your teacher. Sometimes money is the exchange, sometimes service, and sometimes the teacher just gives freely and asks nothing. In that case what can we give back? Only our appreciation… and by appreciate I mean grow. Become your highest potential. Take the lesson in and give to others.
On we go… let’s try another word: loyalty. I guess the question here is… is the loyalty asked for, or is it freely given. Is it spiritual practice or external manipulation? Loyalty could be looked upon as consistency – I’m consistently present in your life, whether near or far, because I dig you… I see your soul, your beauty, your aspirations, your struggles, and I’m feeling you as a brother, sister, lover, friend. As you move ahead, I support you… because that’s what’s up. If we disagree, so what… that’s just opinion and opinions change: loyalty doesn’t. And if you stumble, I’m not going to abandon you. I’ll still be here.
And then there’s the ‘not so good’ feeling to loyalty… it comes with the words, “be loyal.” For most of us spiritually-minded persons, there’s a natural inclination to run in the other direction at the mere thought of obligation. Who would ask for such a thing? Well, we all know that quite a few people would… loyalty is a keyword within the system. It is conditioned in small ways and can become seriously restrictive in very big ways, i.e. loyalty to my government; loyalty to my potato chip brand. When the system’s programming says ‘be loyal’, the real meaning is ‘be useable’. We can sign off on that.
I really like the word fidelity. While it may seem restricting, in that it holds you to something, it is ultimately liberating in that it holds you to inner divinity. Fidelity brings to mind an image and an experience in my own life that speaks directly to the spiritual battlefield. This is where soldier boy and brave girl come into the picture.