The Elbow

By now you have surely heard or read about your internal voice. You know, it’s that guiding voice that we all have that tells us what to do with our lives? You’ve heard that voice whispering to you, right? Yeah, me neither.

I have never liked referring to that inner THING that we have as a voice because I personally have never heard it audibly. And hearing other people talk about listening to their internal voice has – without fail – made me wonder whether they should seek a psychological evaluation just to be sure they aren’t schizophrenic. Believe me, I’m not judging them, I’ve just never heard voices that’s all.

I prefer to think of that inner THING as The Elbow, because personally speaking, I’ve always felt it rather than heard it. The Elbow can ever so gently nudge me in the direction that is right for me, or, much more frequently it seems, pummel me in the gut when I am about to do something that is not right for me. I can share with you a very literal example of The Elbow at work, and I suspect you might relate.

Once, what seems like a lifetime ago (but I’m only 37 so that’s a bit of an exaggeration), I was working as a young veterinarian for a truly incredible veterinary practice. I mean, I cannot overstate here how unique and outstanding this practice is – filled with supportive superiors and run with the highest of ethical standards. It was a dream come true and I knew, even at the time, that I was incredibly lucky to be a part of this team. I was also in a long-term, long-distance, romantic relationship that in hindsight had completely run its course, but I didn’t quite recognize that at the time. I had made some poor decisions that put a strain on that relationship (as in, I started another relationship simultaneously – which of course should have been my first clue that relationship #1 had run its course, but I digress), and in a hasty attempt to repair relationship #1 I decided that I needed to quit my job and move across the country with the other half of relationship #1 and start my life all over. I made the decision and then made the call to the President of our practice – a man who had been an unwaveringly supportive friend/boss during my budding veterinary career – to tell him that I was leaving. As the phone rang, The Elbow socked me in the gut. Continuously. My boss answered and I made arrangements to meet with him so I could break the news in person. The Elbow socked me in the gut – HARD – when I handed in my resignation. And The Elbow bruised my belly for the entire week during which I lived as if this new horrible plan was my next move in life. Finally, after seven days of brutalization at the hands of The Elbow, I called my boss and asked if I could rescind my resignation. Being the kind and compassionate person that he is, he welcomed me back into the fold and I remain a member of that wonderful practice to this day. In fact, I think of it more like a family than a practice and they have supported me ever since, including my move across the country to expand the practice in my own dream location. Oh, and I also have a terrific life partner (at the time, he was relationship #2…) and two beautiful children. All thanks to The Elbow.

But this writing thing? The Elbow has been pretty subtle about that one for a really, really long time. I don’t know about you, but my Elbow is much more forceful when it’s trying to keep me out of trouble than when it’s trying to show me what the next right step is. Maybe that’s why so many of us have such a hard time finding our way in life. It would be nice if The Elbow could turn itself into a hand that we could hold and that hand could simply lead us where we need to go. But we don’t have a hand, we have The Elbow. And because The Elbow is subtle when it is trying to show us the right way, we need to make time to sit in stillness so that we can start to feel the direction of the nudge.

One thought

  1. I LOVE this concept of The Elbow, and I much prefer it over the “inner voice.” Often, there are so many competing thoughts running through my mind that if I did have an inner voice, I wouldn’t be able to actually hear it. I like the elbow because it is directly related to how one feels, which I can always decipher, no matter what thoughts are raging in my mind and racking my brain. Thanks a lot for this post.


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