At my request, someone emailed me a section from their in process autobiography. Curious and interested, I wanted to sniff the flavor of its essence and writing style. After reading a small, poignant selection of the author’s work, I responded hastily to what I’d read. In my response, I’d used the terms soul print, and soul imprint interchangeably. This term foreign to Ed its author, was frankly upon further reflection, also rather foreign to me. So, when he wrote back asking, “What is a soul print or imprint?” I, prompted and moved by his question, my own curiosity and the concurrent background sounds of a howling coyote enjoying a much coveted kill outside my tiny canyon home, proceeded to offer up an answer!
As so often happens, in unintentional Talmudic style, Ed’s question led to other questions, as my own need to craft a less cavalier, more thoughtful, response and definition of greater depth encompassed me. As I worked to further mine the meaning of the term soul imprint, it became clear that my request to read Ed’s work and his curious question, were unintended gifts.
With the term soul, currently red hot and growing hotter with each day, commercially, collectively and in psycho-spiritual circles, it is no surprise that my use of the phrase, soul print, thrown out so cavalierly by me across the internet miles, clearly warranted, if not further thought, then at the very least, an exploration of greater clarification and depth.
I was interested in following through on this exploration, but my immediate answer to Ed’s request for a clearer definition of the term soul print would have to wait. Or, if not wait, then be further defined by my efforts to seek a clear definition of the term. Not exactly comfortable I’m sure, for the quick response often sought by an Aries! However, I do thank Ed for the provocation, elicited by his question! And so I riffed on it and riffed on it until I felt inklings of the satisfaction that comes with having riffed just long enough so that at the very least, as in the Talmudic tradition, further questions while not completely answered have at least been provoked.
There’s no holding back or denying the impact that being such an integral and intimate part of the terminal ending of a beloved’s only partially lived life, must’ve had upon Ed in his role as caretaker of his terminally ill partner.
I imagine that for Ed, the witnessing of, caring for, and final loss of a piece of himself and of his life, at the very least, qualified as having left a significant soul print in its own right. One might conjecture, that a terminal experience such as that, had penetrated to the very matrix of Ed’s own life and very soul. Yet, a soul print made and left by the hand of a child in wet cement, also conjures the as yet unlived possibility of the kind that only a tiny hand print left by a small child in wet cement might evoke. In fact, both the loss of Ed’s friend and lover, and that of the as yet undeveloped hand print of a small child may both be considered to be mysterious images of as yet unlived possibilities. One, never to be lived, the other, a tiny, presumably living hand, so very much alive and waiting in life’s wings, for actualization.
Other questions arose within me as I reflected upon and contemplated this notion of soul prints. For example, is the capacity to create and/or to experience the living out and unfolding of soul imprints as given at or with birth carried within the physiological DNA until fleshed out by the experiences of our lives, and of which my friend Ed’s experience is but one example
There is no doubt that it fits as a part of his nature, his autobiography, as well as that of his departed friend. What is one to do with this kind of experience? Ed has certainly personally carried it forward into his life’s work with the dying. Are their different soul imprint questions and issues at different stages of life? How does one live from here on out after a life-changing event? What impact, i,e, soul print/imprint, has, does, or will trauma make upon one’s biography? Poetic? Literal? Psychological? Physiological? Is the impact, if there is one, ever complete in and by its effect(s)? After a powerful experience, is one called upon to take from and give back to life differently? And/or to be in this life more fully, perhaps even more courageously, while allowing and awaiting the unlived, untried, sleeping dimensions of oneself to awaken?
What are psyche’s (soul’s) messages (imprints) in the here and now? Do they translate only into rich, unique, though often difficult, life experiences? If so, what kind? Will something of value continue to emerge from Ed’s deceased friend, even now while Ed is still alive? Does the living on of their experience continue? If so, how, and where? What is the special facet of the autobiographical imagination that makes this experience, this soul imprint, their soul imprint unique?
Seems to me, for an experience to be and/or to leave a soul print or imprint on and in one’s life, it must fall into at least one or more of the categories listed below:
And, then there’s that one final question that occurs to me now, here at the end of this blog:
JANUARY 16, 2015
Judith Harte, Ph.D., LMFT
Psychotherapist/Marriage/Family Therapist /Archetypal Astrologer/Emerging Sculptress/Author