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Enigma Of The Soul

How often do you use the word, ‘Soul?’ How often do you think about your ‘Soul?’

Mirriam-Webster defines ‘Soul’ as:

1. the immaterial essence, animating principle, or actuating cause of an individual life

2. a: the spiritual principle embodied in human beings, all rational and spiritual beings, or the universe

So, that’s enough, right? The two definitions pretty much say it all, and there are more definitions there in the dictionary if you want more.

‘Soul’ seems to me, though, such a huge word to be so small. Writers likely get the most use out of the word than the people who really work for a living — no anger, please, just adding a little levity here. Really, it seems to me that ‘Soul’ is not in too many mundane conversations. ‘Soul’ is usually saved for the philosophers, poets, preachers, Romantics, sentimentalists, and writers.

You can almost envision the literary expatriates who gathered in Paris between the period of World War One and the onset of World War Two…wtiters like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemmingway, Sherwood Anderson, James Joyce, Ezra Pound, John Dos Passos, Samuel Beckett, Henry Miller, Anais Nin, Lawrence Durrell, Gertrude Stein to name a few — okay, okay, I’m name-dropping — but these were the people I read and studied in college and their lives got somehow interwoven with my own, with my ‘Soul.’ I can see them sitting at the sidewalk cafes talking in the afternoon about their writings, about how the devastation of war had impacted their lives. I can see them drinking the Bacchus liquids and debauching in the evenings, pausing in their fun and frivolity for serious and sober moments to discuss the condition of the ‘Soul.’ These were the people Gertrude Stein referred to as ‘the lost generation.’ Certainly, why not Paris? Why not gather in the great city of lights with so much art and beauty? It was the place to be if you were disillusioned by a world intent on war and destruction. It was the perfect place and time to discuss matters of the ‘Soul,’ and these great writers held those discussions in the finest style and with some of the most celebrated erudition prevalent in those days.

So, why do I post about ‘Soul?’

Guess it’s easy for me, an oldtimer looking back on his life, how he’s lived, somewhat of an anachronism in today’s fast moving digital world. ‘Soul’ is such an all-encompassing word. It holds such a fascination for me in these sunset years, but it has always held that fascination for me — guess ‘Soul’ for me is what writing is all about. We live, we pay taxes, and we die, but the ‘Soul’ offers us so many delectable scenarios of which to consider and ponder.

‘Soul’ is that defining part of us that we can’t pinpoint, can’t know exactly where it is, but we have to know that it is there. ‘Soul’ is everything Mirriam-Webster says it is, but so very much more. There are times when the directions we take as a world concerns me greatly. It is my hope that we can still take time, Paris or not, to discuss the implications of such an enigmatic and beautiful word.


Billy Ray Chitwood – 12/10/17 (From the Archives, 8/12)

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10 comments on “Soul

  1. Gwen Plano says:

    “Soul” is my kind word. I love the expansive, elusive, and beckoning nature of the word. And, of course, I love the suggestion that we are more than our human bodies and that “more” lives eternally. Thank you for bringing this up today, Billy Ray. This is a very soul-full time of the year. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you, Gwen. Hope your week goes beautifully!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you, DW, your comment is appreciated…and, it is lovely! ♥

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautiful post, Billy Ray. I think a lot about soul, and perhaps it is the act of storytelling that draws writers to delve into the cores of our characters, their souls, so to speak. It encourages reflection and contemplation as we create and destroy. I like the mystery, the questioning, and the possibilities, the unknowable nature of soul. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Micki Peluso says:

    Billy Ray, you chose a word I intensely identify with most of my waking hours. Yes, a small word but a mighty word encompassing all of us as I believe all souls will merge as one at some point. If only our ego minds got out of the way of soul what a different world this would be–perhaps Heaven on earth. Thank you for this.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Bless you, Micki! I so much wish you a HAPPY hOLIDAY season! ♥


  4. D.L Finn, Author says:

    You expressed beautifully what the soul is. I like to think of the soul as our poet. The soul is what writing is all about, I agree. Great topic and one I like to ponder about often. Thanks:)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. eden baylee says:

    Lovely post, Billy Ray. It is interesting how certain words resonate with writers. Hope you have something fun planned for the holidays. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, sweet lady. You, too, on the holiday planning!!! xox ♥

      Liked by 1 person

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