Sojourns and Soul Journeys: Exploring the Peripatetic Mindset

“Those who learned to know death, rather than to fear and fight it, become our teachers about life.” ~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

What is a soul journey? To effectively answer that, we’ll need to ask ourselves another question: what is a soul? “Soul” is one of those concepts, like “God” and “Love,” that is a bit tricky to define. And like the concepts “God” and “Love,” “Soul” is a sensitive subject for most. Why is this?


It comes down to this: there are over seven billion different people on the planet and we all have a different psychophysiological interpretation to any given stimuli. Every concept from spoons to Ferraris creates a fundamentally different psychophysiological reaction within each and every one of us. We’re just typically not aware of the difference. Except when it comes to such sensitive concepts as “God/Love/Soul.”

I mean, we can all agree on a definition of something simple like a fork, or a chair, or the sun. But when it comes down to abstract concepts about the human condition, we tend to get a little nervous, and sometimes more than a little anxious.

Suddenly we’re ready to square circles and force square pegs into round holes. And maybe that’s a good definition for Soul? Soul (n): squaring circles and forcing square pegs into round holes. Then again, maybe not.

Now enter the peripatetic mindset

“It is the mark of an educated mind to entertain a thought without accepting it.” ~ Aristotle

Peripatetic means traveling from place to place. And if we can apply this to a mindset, we come up with a mind that can “entertain a thought without accepting it.” We come up with a mind that can “travel” from thought to thought, from idea to idea.

We arrive at a worldview that withholds a worldview for the sake of continuing the journey of truth. It’s a way of being in the world that takes things into consideration (ideas, ideologies, and worldviews), appreciates them for what they are, and then intellectually/sacrificially lets them go.

It’s the understanding that thoughts are like air: if you breathe in but forget to breathe out, you’re in trouble. And so it is with thoughts: if you think them in but forget to think them out (let go), you’re in trouble.

Aristotle knew this all too well. He also said, “It is of the nature of desire not to be satisfied, and most men live only for the gratification of it.” Indeed. Gratification is overrated. Best to be satisfied in moderation. Best to maintain desire and curiosity so as to keep the journey constant.

The peripatetic mindset keeps us even-keeled on the choppy waters of Truth. It’s a mindset that’s never set. It reminds us that we are merely journeymen, sojourners, on the journey-being-the-thing. It reminds us that all things change.

There is no permanence. We either learn to adapt to change, or we become victims to change. Either way, vicissitude remains the hard and fast rule. But vicissitude is also the striking beauty inherent within the Great Mystery.

And the better we become at sojourning, at moving from place to place, at entertaining a thought without accepting it, at breathing in and breathing out, at having an idea and being able to let it go, the better we will be at adapting to vicissitude.

And, of course, the better we’ll get at not being fooled or making fools out of ourselves. That is to say, the wiser we’ll become.

Now enter the Soul journey

sojourn3“Better to operate with detachment, then; better to have a way but infuse it with a little humor; best, to have no way at all but to have instead the wit constantly to make one’s way anew from the materials at hand.” ~ Lewis Hyde

A soul journey is a chain of soul-infused sojourns. It’s being soulfully present while treating the thought or place as a sacred space for further deepening the Great Mystery. It’s the ability to fully immerse ourselves in the moment, to feel it deep in our bones, and to let it fill our mind-body-spirit to bursting with an In-the-Now essence.

Like Vijali Hamilton said, “If there is any wisdom running through my life now, in my walking on this earth, it came from listening in the Great Silence to the stones, trees, space, the wild animals, to the pulse of all life as my heartbeat.”

A soul journey is the culmination of many tiny adventures compounded into a grand meta-adventure. Whether those adventures are “real” or imagined, merely ideas or lived ideals, fiction or non-fiction, hypothesis or tested theory.

Each sojourn is a link in a mighty chain leading across the bridge from man to Overman, from lower frequency to higher frequency, from primitive brain to advanced mind. Each sojourn is a sincere dance on an unforgiving dancefloor, high-laughter in a hall of stagnant mirrors, slow humor on a highway of fast gloom.

It is Nietzsche howling from an abyss: “We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once. And we should call every truth false which was not accompanied by at least one laugh.”

A soul journey is a riot of the heart in a heartless realm, an insurrection of the soul in the midst of the soulless. It’s a mighty transmigration. It’s movement par excellence. It’s breaking down walls, stretching comfort zones, shattering mental paradigms, pushing envelopes, and testing Time.

It’s questioning to the nth degree, and then questioning why we’re questioning to the nth degree. It’s taking all things in moderation, to include moderation. It’s unapologetically getting in the overbearing face of authority. It’s slapping God.

Like Darnell Lamont Walker said, “Sometimes our walls exist just to see who has the strength to knock them down.”

From leap of courage, to sojourn, to soul journey, living the peripatetic mindset is the epitome of allowing the journey to be the thing. The journey must continue. The place, wherever it is, must be absconded.

The idea must be taken into consideration, not believed. The thought must be honored and then released so that new and better thoughts can arrive to strengthen the overall muscle memory of human experience.

It’s seeking the Theater of the Absurd, the Hill of High Humor, the pinnacle of Mount Wisdom, the Highlands of Unconditional Love. It’s using the cornerstone as a steppingstone toward the philosopher’s stone.

It’s taking the following wise words of Plato to heart, and then moving on with our desire in tow: “Love is neither wise nor beautiful, but is rather the desire of wisdom and beauty.”

Image source

Andre Gide quote
Joseph Campbell quote

Please share, it really helps! :) <3

Gary Z McGee
Gary Z McGee
Gary 'Z' McGee, a former Navy Intelligence Specialist turned philosopher, is the author of Birthday Suit of God and The Looking Glass Man. His works are inspired by the great philosophers of the ages and his wide awake view of the modern world.


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