Terry Pratchett built a world where lives had ‘lifetimes’. These were like hour glasses, but bigger. When the sand ran through, death came to collect you.

My aunt lost her voice in old age. It made me think that perhaps we were gifted with a finite number of words we could say before our allotted words ran out, so maybe speak less, and more kindly?

Reading again The Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu. The second story is called State Change. In the world in which the story is set people are born with a soul that is an object, or thing that they have to keep close, care for. The central character’s soul is an ice cube.

No one expects that she will live long.

The story is beautiful, thought provoking and I love the way there are some writers, who, with so few words, can build a many layered world, and stories that live outside the edges of the pages.

The stories in this book almost seem to be like keys, the words unlocking memories. They flow like clear cool water from the page.

But this one made me think. What would my soul object be? Perhaps a paint box? Or maybe a brush? And still I think……

And so I ask, if you were born in this world where your soul was born beside you, an object, something you had to keep close, keep safe, what might that be? Not an animal, for this is not a totem creature, and animals have souls of their own. Something….

If you would think, and tell me, in the comments to this blog I will pick a person now and again and send a card, or badge or something. And if you would share that would be kind, as I would love to hear what people think….

And if you need a good book then The Paper Menagerie is one such. The title story might break your heart a little. But that can never be such a bad thing. It’s beautiful.

( The Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu is published by Head of Zeus)

About Jackie

I am an artist and writer. I live in a small house by the sea in Wales where I write, paint, walk and watch and dream of bears and whales. I love to read, have a wish for wings and prefer the company of animals to that of humans, though at times I can be quite friendly. I am learning how to work with wood engraving tools and hoping to show that you can teach an old dog new tricks.
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114 Responses to Souls

  1. Donatella says:

    I think my soul would have to be a book. But it would be a small one, hand bound in deep blue with a faint, faint dusting of glitter that catches the light and looks like starlight. Printed on it is “Vous etes une fleur”. I found this book in Paris and I keep it close by on my desk.

  2. Philippa says:

    My soul object would be a minute weather vane, balanced so finely that even one whispered syllable would make it turn. Not a cockerel but a gilded mermaid would show which way the wind blows. Verdigris letters would point to the four corners of the world.

  3. John Ward says:

    At first I thought a bicycle and then, frivolously, a hat. A hat would never make a serious soul, I fear, though it might make a handsome one that won others’ admiration. You would be in great danger of losing it one way or another – on the bus or train or on a windy day. But a bicycle is a strong companion on life’s road and will bear your burdens. Also it can be described in a riddling way: an iron horse that rides upon the air. So a bicycle for me.

  4. Lorna sugden says:

    i guess mine would be a pen and paper because it can lead to anything creative, writing drawing doodling or planning.

  5. Aimee Williams says:

    A soul should reflect our heart’s desire. The thing, or things we love most in life. For me that is plants. All things green and growing. But, plants have souls too, so my soul would have to be a beautiful Malachite stone which is the purest green. As a representation of the foundation of all life on this precious planet. 🙂

  6. My first thought is a felting needle. Not just because it is my job but because it is sharp and barbed and dangerous yet can be the bringer of beauty and joy and softness and silliness. So fragile and easy to break, it will only make so much before it is gone, used in anger or as a weapon it will break sooner, with kindness, to create, it will last longer.
    We are all walking an edge between love and hate in our souls, we choose which side we fall. The prick of a needle can be a sharp reminder which way to walk.
    And it is sharp.
    Like my mind.

  7. Jenny Peacock says:

    My soul object might be a pen. I’d need to feed it with ink, keep it topped up. Hold it in my hand, push it behind my ear, clip it to my inside pocket close to my heart. Use it to communicate to loved ones.

  8. Mo Crow says:

    a seed to be planted in the heart of the matter

  9. Hi Jackie,
    I just wanted to write to say what a wonderful blog you have written.
    I love reading it as it’s a real reflection of the person behind the beautiful art and an intriguing read (As well as great photos).

    My soul object is a small smooth rose quartz stone that I have had for many years. I loose everything, but this unassuming little stone comes back to me every-time, it’s truly amazing. Its very calming and I use to hold it tightly on public transport on my commute into the city, I use to suffer from all sorts of anxieties to do with crowded spaces .(Funny enough I have the stone in my my hand now and it’s perfectly shaped that I can fit a paint brush in the hand and paint with it as well!). The object that I have that is most precious to me is the most invaluable(In monetary terms) I guess that might be a sign of a true soul object?

    I’ve enjoyed your artwork for a long time now and it’s a real inspiration.
    I started painting as a profession this February after my father past away on the 30th birthday, it hit me hard and was the most painful experience of my life. So hard I decided to rethink my life, career and direction.
    I try to derive the positives and use it to make me realise you cannot just bumble along, but instead grab the bull by the goonies! I was a Lead artist for a game studio for 6 years– extremely corporate office environment. No place for a messy artist like myself.

    I quit my job and began painting. People thought I was mad, I didn’t really have a plan or a solid strategy (Nor formal education in art or anything else as a matter of fact) but knew if it failed it would never ever be as bad as the day I lost my Dad, everything paled in to insignificance after that experience. So I thought, what the hell what’s the worst that could happen.

    I’m very responsible (Well sort of!) adult, so have mortgage and bills a car to run and a cat to feed so obviously, I knew I had to make a certain amount to cover my costs each month. I read about your experience and it does make me feel that it’s possible perhaps for me as well.
    I’ve worked on commissions for friends and families and the ripple seems to cast outwards and I am now getting requests from strangers through word of mouth. I’ve sold paintings and attended trade shows to earn money. Its not much, but its enough. Its tough but I can cut my cloth accordingly (I.e be very tight!) I’m also expecting my first child (A little boy) this March and I am not worried at all as I know I will earn money as I must earn money.
    I’m telling you this just because I’ve read your story via your blog and it really adds feathers to my wings, that you have tread this rocky road before me.
    Lastly, please keep writing your blog. You will never truly know the impact it has on the silent majority. It’s so motivating and moving and will be a great source of inspiration for your children to read (In time- They will not be interested now but trust me they will be in the future).
    Keep creating beautiful inspiring works, you are truly gifted and I love seeing people use these gifts properly.
    Best wishes,

    • Jackie says:

      Thank you.
      I started my first children’s book the week after my son was born.
      But it’s not easy. Draw your child though. One of my regrets is that I didn’t. And look at Doodlemum online. She has a wonderful blog and draws her family.
      Be kind to yourself and paint.
      And thank you.

  10. Abby King says:

    What a beautiful post. My soul object is my cello. The beautiful curves of the wood, the weight of the bow in my hand are part of me. It is my other voice, sometimes my better voice.

  11. Stephen Hackett says:

    A Finnish black wooden carved bear. It has been with me since I was a small boy. It sits by my desk, and I go long periods without looking at, or considering it. But it is there. Always.

  12. chiller says:

    I think mine would be a very old glass or quartz lens or sphere. Almost entirely clear, but not quite (minor inclusions, scratches). A thing that can make an image clearer or blurrier, or invert it, or burn, or allow you to dream, or show you what you cannot see without it.

  13. Haulwen Nicholas says:

    This really made me and my husband think. For him it would be a guitar as when he is playing it is like it is a part of him. For me my immediate thought was book but what book. Then I thought it would have to be a blank notebook with a red leather cover, something where I could write my own story, the words forming on the page and changing and twisting and turning with all of lives changes.

  14. Cat says:

    I would be a pencil. 3b.
    Soft. Yet with an ability to be sharp, focused and precise.
    A soul that can find a place almost anywhere. Useful in the most mundane ways, or creating art.

  15. LabCat says:

    I think my Swiss army knife might be my soul. It is very practical (like me) but then it has some blades that I never use (like the one to remove stones from horses hooves). It also allows me to create as I use my knife to cut food, cut yarn, tighten screws, saw up little twigs. Unfortunately I can’t take it with me when I travel (by air) anymore and so I don’t carry it around as much as I did when travel was easier. It is waiting in my apartment in Connecticut for my return.

  16. Robynn says:

    First I thought yarn, but that’s not true, the yarn is just potential. Perhaps a pencil, or a small tin – these are the needful things I get attached to. But I expect a soul would be a not needful thing. A secretive thing, slightly obscure. I used to collect Chinese locks – small brass objects, the opening of which is almost a puzzle. They are beautiful and good to carry, both functional and a tiny bit too precious for pure function. I think that’s what my soul would be.

  17. Leslie says:

    I expect mine is a needle. Literally taken, I’ve done some sort of needle work all my life. In another sense, I’ve a sharpish personality. A thing you can create with, or poke someone.

  18. Jude Walker says:

    Maybe not all that profound, but a teapot.
    Sturdy yet fragile. Functional yet beautiful. Capable of delivering (and sharing, more importantly) warmth and sustenance.

  19. Kim Howard says:

    I think my soul may reside in a large spotted handkerchief. A comfort, a toy, a tool, a flag, practical, frivolous, safe. Can be washed clean and shared with someone in need. A sign of love and trust.

  20. Sara Duir says:

    I thought, an oak tree. But the life of an oak is so long, maybe it cannot be the symbol of one human lifetime. So, then, maybe an acorn. It is full of potential, having the whole story of a future oak bound up tightly inside it. It could grow into something strong and beautiful that provides safe haven, shade and sustenance to others.
    Or it may stay dormant, not growing, shrinking, hardening, squeezing the oak’s story into inexsistence.
    Or it could be eaten by a squirrel, and nourish a different life altogether, one of wild leaps and adventure.
    I’m hoping for the first option though.

    • heather foley says:

      An acorn was the first thing that came into my mind also and your explanation is so wonderfully said …..thank you, Heather

  21. Bernie Bell says:

    I sent this out to folk , on Christmas Day – I think Not quite what your’e speaking of – but along those lines – and I thought you might like to read it…………….
    Hmmmm If your soul was an ice cube – you wouldn’t live for long – but – our time is our time – that’s all there is to it – however long, or short, it is. Anyway – here’s my dream…………..

    “I had a dream last night – there’s not a lot of point in telling all of it – it was mostly a discussion between a small group of people, concerning portals. People had brought images, and some were making images, of portals. Howie (Firth) had brought an image of a rock carving.
    I’ve tried to draw it – I’m not good at drawing! – it does give an idea of it. And – it looks different when it’s carved into rock.
    The outcome of the discussion was – that there are portals, here, which a person can go through if seeking change or progression. You can go through water, through fire, through earth, through air ( make a portal, by making a doorway – then, in your mind, it becomes a portal – you go through the empty space in the doorway – as a portal – so, the air in the doorway becomes a portal). Our realization at the end of the dream was that………..
    THE portal, is life.
    Going through life, is THE portal.

    This image doesn’t look like what I’d normally think of as a portal – something with an opening in it – which puzzled me, but, you can imagine it opening.
    I think it does exist, and I’d recognize it if I saw it.

    And why am I sending it to you folks? I think it’s significant, and you’ve never asked me not to send you my …………..thoughts, ramblings, dreams.

    Mid-winter magic.


  22. Bernie Bell says:

    Sorry – I can’t put the picture in! The ways of t’Internet are a mystery to me sometimes – I’ll send it to your email address –
    While I’m here – what do I think my soul-object-shape might be? It’s me – it’s my body – that’s the object, for my soul.

  23. Stuart Hill says:

    I wonder if the soul object changes over a life lived. Forty or so years ago my object might have been a pair of shears, or a sewing machine as I was a car trimmer (upholsterer) and thought I’d be nothing else in life. Then eventually, to my amazement, and thanks to the intervention and guidance of a good friend, I went to college and university, where my object would have to be a pen (computer-written essays were unheard of in those days). Long after that I achieved one of my greatest ambitions and became a published writer, and again my object would have been a pen or word processor. I’m still a writer now, but I’m also an artist and regularly sell my pictures. So now I think my object would have to be a hi-brid of brush and pen, with a nib at one end and fine bristles at the other. Though in all reality I prefer making pictures to writing, so perhaps one day my object will become simply a brush.

    • Jackie says:

      My dad started as an upholsterer at Leyland Stuart. And my two aunts both worked all their lives as machinists in Leyland. Ken Liu is definitely a writer’s writer. Worth checking out. I’ve just bought his novel.

      • Stuart Hill says:

        Leyland was one of the ‘elite of the elite’ in the trimming world as I’m sure you very well know, Jackie. But the company I worked for was a small firm that did a lot of repairs to worn out seats from privately owned family cars. Having said that, they also did specialist work for museums; I vividly remember a a Buick from the 1920’s that looked like Al Capone could have been a less than careful previous owner! Also, being a small firm I learnt a broad sweep of all aspects of the job, from machining seat covers and hoods, to fitting carpets in cars. I like to think I could still fit out an interior at a push.

        Ken Liu sounds very interesting. My partner works in a brilliant independant bookshop, so I’ll get her to check the shelves

  24. Ellie Bartleman says:

    Mine would be a Christmas Bauble.
    I inherited my parents’ old Christmas decorations a couple of years ago. They were probably bought in the late 1940s. I had remembered the glass tree baubles as stunningly beautiful and exquisite, representative of Christmases past when, as a wee child, I believed in the magic and would sit in the darkened room with the tree, just absorbing the peace and the fairylight, the glistening baubles and the reflections of the pine tree in colours on the wall.
    I was so looking forward to seeing them again after many years of them being stored away in the attic for many years so I begged for the old Christmas decoration box and took it home to open on my own and retrieve the lost magic. However, when I opened it, the baubles looked so shabby, grubby, cheap and sadly damaged. My adult self could see them for what they were, and I was sad. I wanted to see them as I had remembered them so I set about repairing them.
    I spent days restoring these little baubles, using tissue paper and glue and tweezers, I matched the colours and painted the little patched bits, finishing them with a pearlised paint. They’re still cheap and tacky, but have a faded beauty about them, and once they are on the tree, with the fairylights, they are as lovely and mysterious and magical to me as they were all those years ago.
    I relate to these objects, they were designed by someone, made in moulds in a factory and finished and painted maybe by a factory girl or boy. They may have been made in Britain or abroad. But made by ordinary people to create magic and beauty for other ordinary people.
    I’m an ordinary girl, and am a bit shabby and worn round the edges, but with a bit of loving care and the right light, I hopefully can glisten and shine and create a bit of magic too.

    • Jackie says:

      I love reading what you write Ellie. I gave two of your flying foxes to friends to hang on their trees this year. Going to send you a copy of this book. I think you will like it.
      When my son was born I wanted to paint a Christmas decoration every year for him, and also my daughter. It’s one thing I would change if I had a time machine. I often thought about it, but never made them, and then it felt as if it was too late.
      Too much time working, earning a living, not enough time working just for the love of it. But lucky to have only really worked on things I love doing I suppose.
      Look forward to seeing you again some time, at Blue ginger of in Dulverton at Number Seven.

  25. SallyH says:

    My object would be a small wooden box with a secret trick to the opening of it. My dad made it, for my grandmother. My grandfather was a carpenter and joiner and apprenticed my dad to a cabinet maker, even though my dad wanted to be an electrical engineer, but money was tight, so grandad took his friend’s son as an apprentice and his friend returned the favour. Both lads finished up in the army for the second world war, so that was a wasted economy. My dad did eventually complete his apprenticeship, but carpentry was a job – not his hoped for life. I loved the box for the cleverness of it, for the secrets that could be concealed within, and for the memories of my dad who passed it on to me when my nan died – I lost dad a quarter of a century ago (he was much older than my mum and exuded stoicism by the time I came along. I only learned of his thwarted dreams piecemeal, from other relatives) He was a craftsman with the soul of an engineer – and revisited his ambitions by encouraging me into the world of computing – much less commonplace back then, and an even rarer career choice for a girl. Now I have only the memory of the box. Eight years ago a puppy ignored the carefully chosen chew toys and took great pains to obtain and destroy it. I wasn’t cross – which suprised me. My dad never really wanted to be what he was, and it was almost as if the splintered wood finally set him free. I gave Hugo a big old cuddle, because he was there and my dad was not. Stuff is temporary, and my soul object is really that knowledge – tied up in the fragments and the memory of a small wooden box, with a secret trick of opening it.

  26. Karin Parramore says:

    My soul would be a knife. Forged of fierce fire, folded a thousand times so it shimmers with Damascened whorls. Polished to a mirror finish to reflect myself back to me, and to reflect others back to them as well. Molecularly thin edged for slicing through time and space–not too hard, as they are illusions. There would be an enormous (well, proportionally large) flawless, transparent gem, capable of coloring my view for a new perspective. Practical too, as one can always eat if one has a knife. Now, what will my scabbard be? It may change daily, in a moment, to reflect who I am right now.

  27. Ellie Bartleman says:

    Oh how lovely – you have certainly given me a sparkle today!
    Yes – that time thing. It’s the same here, I’ve spent my whole life making things but I don’t think I’ve ever made something specifically for my children. Apart from cakes, meals, the odd knitted garment and fancy dress costumes.
    Your blog here really made me think. My mum died this year and so the past and the future is very much on my mind. Where we come from and where we are going. Thanks for making me think – every now and again I read something that starts things ticking over and this was my end of year inspiration!
    Many thanks – I will read the book and treasure it always.
    Hope to see you again soon.

  28. Lina Cuartas says:

    What a magical portal your question became, Javkie, a virtual game of deep thought and reflection. I would choose a feather; an instrument to write, to paint,to tickle, to decorate, to remind us to fly, to dream, to remember, ours is just a thread in a much larger set of wings…

  29. Meri Brady says:

    I have spent the better part of the last day pondering my answer to this question, and then the obvious answer came to me as I lay down to sleep, my hand tucked under the pillow, under my head. Sometimes I still wake with my fist clenched tightly around nothingness, and in the haze before coming fully awake, I wonder why my hand is empty.

    Many children have something they choose to keep with them and guard at all times, something that brings them comfort. It might be brightly colored, a favorite animal, a warm blanket, something that anchors them and lets them worry at it, eventually wearing down artificial fur or creating holes in cloth. I have always been a little different. Instead of the whole blanket, I would pick carefully at the stitching until I had removed the soft ribbon from the edge(s). I did this to several blankets, and eventually these ribbons became a knotted mass that I took everywhere with me, tangling and untangling them from the fingers of one hand. I liked to creep up next to my grandmother’s side of the bed, or my grandfather in his chair, and tickle their faces with the ribbons, leading us to call the knotted mass “the tickler”. I even took them to school for a while, until the other kids mocked me and I chose to leave all but one tiny patch of periwinkle ribbon, cut carefully from one end and stashed in my sweater pocket, at home.

    I’m fairly sure that my soul would be this small, knotted tangle of ribbon, all far older than I am, an array of colors from blues and purples to silver, pink, and yellow. As the years go by, they fray and tear, and any one ribbon might have disintegrated by now, but as a mass, as an object with a name, as my soul, they are holding together and changing shape, forever changing shape.

    I think I’ll go fetch the tickler out of the drawer and leave it under my pillow. Of course I still know where it resides.

  30. Bernie Bell says:

    I just want to say to Amelia Player – Good on you , girl! Good on you!
    You’ll do fiiiine – you have it in you.
    Big Thumbs Up!

    And Jackie – yes, I’ll check out the book.

  31. Kathy Kenney says:

    My item would be a stone from Lake Michigan. Worn smooth, with subtle color and mysterious markings. It would warm to my hand, hold my papers in a breeze, and provide the perfect weight in the bottom of my bag.

  32. Ambermoggie says:

    Mine is a rough chunk of raw Amber , has a hole drilled through it and I wear it on a necklace of Amber chips that I have to restring occasionally when the thread frays. It has no fastenings I knot the thread to hold never comes off apart from when it needs restringing. Rough shape but tenacious not smooth but warm . Distilled ? From years of wear xx

  33. Bernie Bell says:

    Further ramblings of smallbear…………….
    Well, Jackie, this particular blog entry has become a real point of exchange for folk to… – open up….all sorts.

    Here’s something in response to Ellie Bartleman’s writing of the passing of her Mum, and past/future times…………

    My sister passed from this life on the 25th November this year – here’s something I wrote to my niece, possibly to be read at Reene’s funeral………….

    “There were 5 of us, 4 girls and a boy. Then there was just me and Reene, and now, there’s just me.
    When someone passes from this life, what we lose is that individual, that personality. We also lose the shared experiences and memories. Now that Reene has passed, who will know what I’m talking about if I mention Mucky Beatty? See what I mean?
    It’s not just shared memories of our generation – of growing up together – it’s the shared knowledge and memories of our parents and grand-parents, and even some stories from generations and family history long past.
    That’s what we lose, and it’s a hard thing to lose.
    It helps if, as I do, we believe that nothing dies. That all life is one and that when we pass from this life, it’s to another way of being – as part of the whole that is LIFE. That helps.
    It means that we can feel that the little spark of LIFE that we loved, hasn’t gone completely, but continues, in some form, somewhere.
    Meanwhile, the absence of that individual, that unique spark of life, is what we mourn.
    Reene, the person, the individual, with all her strengths, weaknesses, foibles and…..ways, is what we’ll miss – that’s what will be missing from our lives. All those shared memories, jokes, points of reference, gone, leaving a big gap. This will be true for all who knew her.
    As I said, there’s just me now, but that’s how life works – we have to move on to make room for the next generation, with all their shared experiences, memories, and life.
    So, I’ll say “Farewell” to Reene – “Travel Well and Safe Home”

  34. My soul is made up of old-fashioned printers’ letters, waiting to be assembled into words and stories. (The font must surely be ITC Golden by William Morris. )

    This is a beautiful post, Jackie; with beautiful responses.

    And I too love Ken Liu’s Paper Menagerie. Bless you for spreading its magic to many more readers.

  35. Pat says:

    My soul would be a flame. It would have to be nurtured to keep it alive, but carefully nurtured it would bring light and warmth to the world. A life of service to the good, a fierce lesson to any who tried to extinguish it. A beacon of hope to those going through dark times. A warning to the dark times, you cannot overcome. A sharing, that flame by flame we all bring hope and warmth; so that when the original burns away, there are thousands lit and encouraged by the one. Then the one, though gone, truly lives forever.

  36. James Mayhew says:

    At first I thought it would be my wind up gramophone. But that plays the souls of others. So then I got to thinking of a plant, or a tree. But I think they have souls too. An empty book and a pen or some paints seems too obvious, although life without creativity would be pointless, for me. Perhaps, then, a glass if water, half full, rather than half empty, to guide me onwards.

  37. Cathy Fisher says:

    A pebble, it’s story in it’s veins, tumbled and shaped by the ocean.
    Especially chosen by the moon to rest beside me at my birth.
    My pebble talisman.
    Rolling softly in my hand throughout my life.
    Until my body, tumbled and shaped when my life is done, fades.
    My pebble rolls on eternal.

  38. Bernie Bell says:

    In response to Cathy Fisher – a poem by my wee pal, Jeanne – who paints big, mad paintings of standing stones……………….


    I search the shore for the perfect shape.
    It must fit into my palm and roll around.
    It must be nearly right and round.
    The sea has done it’s job
    but I will carve it to perfection.

    Above, in the night sky,
    stars punctuate the blackness.
    In my hand, I scrape and chisel
    and mark this one

    This one will not roll off
    back into the sea.
    This one will stay still.


    Carefully, I work to incise lines………….
    like starlight.
    over and around all sides of the sphere I mark firm edges,
    criss-crossing each other,
    like patterns in the night sky.

    At each crossing,
    Memories of the stars above or the life below,
    this stone won’t roll back into the sea.

    We will each hold it.
    We will pass it to one another.
    We will move one grid line on to another.
    With each roll,
    A memory will unfurl inside us.

    Only what we desire, will be returned to the sea.

    Jeanne Bouza Rose.

    • Cathy Fisher says:

      Thank you Jackie for this opportunity to share and thank you Bernie Bell.
      I pick up pebbles that appear at my feet and seem to call me, hold them for a while, sometimes months or years, until the time seems right to pass it on to another hand to hold

  39. It’s a nice idea. I’m not sure there’s any object that I would choose though. Perhaps I have no soul…

    The object I’ve owned longest is a cheap plastic toy that my mother bought me in 1969 on a visit to London Zoo. My best friend and I, both aged three, both got one. He peeled the fur off his on the way home and I remember being horrified and deciding to take better care of mine.

    And nearly 50 years later “Arbuk” is still in one piece though somewhat frayed at the edges.

    So, yeah. This.

  40. Bernie Bell says:

    I likes Arbuk – he looks lived-in.
    And , of course you have a soul, m’dear – only a man with a soul would keep and love Arbuk, and see him for what he is.
    Anyway – we all have a soul, some of us just lose track of it a bit, sometimes.

  41. Joe says:

    I saw this when you first posted it up and couldn’t think of anything which I thought would be a good enough reply…
    Being only 23, I thought what most people my age would say. Disappointingly, I guessed it would have been a smart phone or sort of technology. After reading everyone’s stories above, this seemed a little sad to me.
    Initially I thought maybe a book, as I love to read and couldn’t imagine not having one on the go. But that seemed too obvious.
    I also used to love to paint and draw, but having full time job has caught up to me and I don’t seem to do it anymore. Meaning a paintbrush or pencil just didn’t seem right either.
    But eventually I decided on something that seemed about right.
    I would pick a plain terra cotta plant pot. Nothing fancy, but the possibility of having any number of beautiful plant within the plant pot just seemed like a nice thought.

    Hope I don’t sound too daft!

    It was lovely reading all the replies above.
    Thanks for a great blog.

  42. A packet of seeds: Trees of all kinds, Medicinal Herbs and Flowers, Grass seeds, Corn, Barley and Wheat so I might spread them wherever I go and send them to far flung friends on earth. In the beginning I was a thought that became a wish and then a seed. I have no other soul than that thought, that wish, that seed that became myself.

  43. Ruth says:

    A small brown feather. A little fragile and ordinary and quiet. You have to look close to see its beauty and soft strength. Capable of dancing on the breeze, in the right conditions.

  44. Would it be wrong to choose a twig? Because I believe trees to have souls of their own, yet, a fallen twig would hold part of the trees essence within it, therefore, making the twig very special indeed. I would choose the twig of an ash tree, all knobbly, dainty and light. And in that stick I would trust my hope and deepest heart’s desires. I’d point it to the universe and stars within the skies to help connect to Mother Earth and help me through the night. And if that stick was broken, so would be my heart be too. And there, away I’d wither, until my soul renews. Xx

  45. Ruth Keys says:

    An ammonite, i have been obssessed with spirals as long as I can remember and i love seeing ammonites. They come from a different time built up of many chambers all of which were witnesses to many and varied things. A many chambered soul. Love your post, a copy of the book is down for my next purchase, thank you for making us think.

  46. Sue says:

    This is such a beautiful post. I think it could be possible to fall in love with one of these souls – just from reading the descriptions. How to choose – my own soul feels mutable and elusive like smoke or water it flows into the vessel of my thoughts and will not be pinned down.

  47. Julie says:

    Mine would be my sketch book, it has a leather cover with a beautiful dragon on it to protect my drawings which come straight from soul. i spend so much time just sketching that this book is a part of me.

  48. Rebecca Harrison says:

    My first thought was a cello but they are so cumbersome to shlep around, so I’m opting for a feather. I once had a jay’s feather which I treasured for years until it vanished, and this way my soul could travel with the winds forever.

    Btw, I wrote a story about people having a finite number of words. Although, it was more of a light horror than magic realism.

  49. Poppy Fee says:

    Mine would be pebble too. It is the object I have had the longest. It is small and black and perfectly disc shaped. I picked it up on one of the lovely Cornish beaches – I can’t remember which now – when I was a child. I keep it in a little silk Japanese purse in an antique wooden box safe from harm. I still love Cornwall and the sea, although I rarely get to see it these days.

  50. Angie Pedley says:

    Someone else says a piece of rose quartz. I actually bought the exact one to give to a special friend this Xmas. I may go back to the shop & see if there’s another. It was smooth & round & fit easily into the palm of my hand. I love stones of all kinds.

  51. Janet Jones says:

    I’m not sure if my soul is a hand sewing needle or a sewing machine, because now I have bad arthritis, the machine is sometimes easier to use. Also I can do more, and more quickly with it, which is good. But… it isn’t very portable, and sometimes what I make needs some hand-stitching too. Does it come with an unlimited supply of beautiful coloured threads and fabrics? Sometimes all I want to do is look at them, and think what I could make, and who might like to have it.

  52. Morgan says:

    My mum gave me a translucent slice of blue agate with a silver crescent moon stuck on it. It’s perfectly sized to hold in my palm. It was given for no reason other than love and knowledge of my fondness for the moon. I think that would be my soul.

  53. Reta Kenter says:

    Interesting idea. Mine would be a key. A beautiful wrought key – all scrolls and curlicues at the top. It would be – of course – the key to my heart.

  54. Bridget McCall says:

    A glass prism that makes rainbows and reflects many colours.

  55. Eloise says:

    Mine would be an object that has stayed with me the longest, stretching back through time and continents to my early childhood. A painted bead my father bought for me, bright still though the years have passed. Amazing that it has stayed with me and safe all this time, small, snug, almost forgotten in its box. Maybe I should dare to take it out, thread it through and wear it again.

  56. Jamie says:

    So many possible objects, for me. Gurdjieff wrote of us not having one self when we’re young, but many that all compete for attention, and that have to be forged into a single self by the heat and pressure of crises. Maybe that’s true, maybe not.

    As a child this object would have been a toy spaceship. I had so many adventures with them, from one story or film or another, acting out the heroics and defeating evil empires. A little later and it would be the binoculars my grandfather bought me. We would have our own adventures going to remote places to watch wildlife; deer, foxes, kestrel, peregrines. The choughs that nested in a quarry in Hampshire.

    Later still, a plectrum. Or a fossil, hundreds of millions of years since the fern inside it lived. There are days when I feel that old! Cup. Feather. Knife. Hazel stick. All come and go.

    If I were to choose it would probably be those binoculars. Giving the gift of far sight, perhaps that I dream of having more than anything.

    But I do wish it was the toy spaceship, still.

  57. Diana Patel says:

    A pressed flower. Something small and delicate, like a woodland cyclamen.

  58. Jane says:

    My small white teddy bear ‘Whitey’, well I was only six. I got him for NOT being a bridesmaid. When I was told I would be a bridesmaid I screamed the house down in terror. I was given the bear to shut me up!

  59. Yarrow says:

    I think my soul object might be a penny. I never can be sure which face I’ll wear until I wake up. Will I be happy and bright or dark and a little tarnished!
    You wrote about having a finite number of words some time back, and it’s something that I often think about. There are days when I truly feel like I’ve run out. Sometimes I blog, or write in my private journals and then I feel empty and ready to see what comes next!
    Thank you for your blog (big hugs to Ivy from Manchee) xxx

  60. Susan Thrasher says:

    For me, it’s a small egg-shaped wooden rattle, decorated with Australian Aboriginal designs and filled, perhaps (I don’t know), with seeds. there is no obvious opening; it’s like the wood has been carved and smoothed around something with the seeds already inside. It sits on my dresser, and I don’t think about it much (ever, really) but I like the idea of hidden seeds that rattle, the promise of within coupled with space to move, yet safe within their rounded wooden egg. Soul seeds.

  61. Ruth Wajsblum says:

    My soul object…..Maybe an ancient standing rock, all cragged and holey. Or maybe an old book, the sort that smells so good, with yellowing pages, gothic type, and some incomprehensible pages. I suppose it depends on how I feel. Sometimes it needs to be a bright, carved crystal flame….amber so both ancient and natural, and human worked.

  62. Bonnie Ann says:

    My soul, if I have one, would be a stone. Heavy to carry, rough, as one might find broken from a mountain. Grey, brown and simple in color. Strong enough to endure, soft enough to be smoothed by tears. Already cracked when we came into this world together. My life purpose seems to be to learn the stories of those mineral filled cracks. Minerals with their own stories. I haven’t liked my soul. There were times I tried to set it down in a field and run away from it. I’ve envied people with shiny happy souls. But as I age I’ve grown appreciative of my large stone soul. It has withstood many arrows and lashings with only small scars. It has held me sturdy when I climbed on it for a better view. It seems true enough to itself that wild creatures see one of their own and invite me to their world (which feels a great gift in life). When gales and hurricanes have made terror around me I could cling to its mass, curl under its sides for cover and sharing its weight find myself still remaining when the rest of my world seemed blown away. And when their seemed no hope, no reason worth carrying on i could look at my stone and see delicate circles of lichen forming, green and ivory and alive. Life finding its way in the bleakest of footings.

    Though I do still dream of what it would be like to have a soul full of colors or satin, I’ve become grateful for my heavy, serviceable stone. We may not travel far together, but it’s good to have a sturdy companion.

  63. Priscilla Bushe says:

    My soul would be a computer- so prosaic and unpoetic. Yet it would contain images of all my loved ones and all the beautiful times we’ve had together. It would record the places I’ve been and show plans for places I’d like to visit. It would play my favorite music to soothe me or bring me out of depression. It would have files recording my thoughts, fantasies, and dreams. It would reach out to communicate with others. It would teach me how to do whatever I wanted to learn. It would share the beauty I create with others. It would give me the information I need to make decisions. It would warn me of threats. It would also be very vulnerable to attack. In a moment, it could be wiped clean of everything and nothing would remain. Never put your faith too much in objects- or in souls, for that matter.

  64. Angela Hathway says:

    When I first saw this I quickly thought of an unremarkable stone I’d picked up in a fist of rage some years ago. I came to call it my D stone, the letter to remind me whenever I’d allowed myself to become Disempowered again. I clasped it in my fist to give me strength. What I liked was the strong vein of bright quartz within it, straight and proud. So I took the stone from my cupboard and began to carry it and run my fingers around the quartz vein to gain strength. But I have come to see that it was not my soul but a crutch. After days of thinking I now know my soul is Cadbury Creme Egg ; a glitzy coating that is crumpled and thin, a firm inner shell that will be crushed under any pressure or lose its integrity in the heat. At its heart, a soft sweetness that puts on edge the teeth of many people. And so, I keep my soul protected, on a shelf in its shiny cover, where it may be desired but not handled, and far away from those who would swallow it up.

  65. Lesley says:

    I read this. I read it again, and then again. Such a thought provoking idea, it brought stillness, made me stop, think. I wondered round the house, I sent my mind around the garden, lanes, shores, the memories. Many things materialised in my minds eye, and faded, for though each one had seemed the thing when it came into my life, it seemed that my soul had drifted on. A soul wandering, and seemingly finding nowhere to come to rest, always searching for something slightly beyond the definable. This was somehow disconcerting and raised an uncomfortable thought-had my soul abandoned me. So, a scoop of earth, a cup of water from a flowing stream, a piece of twig burned to make charcoal, a dried dandelion, a dragonfly wing I came upon one Summer, and a breath of air all wrapped in a casket of woven grass. All come together in one, a resting place, an invitation for my soul to come home.

  66. Bernie Bell says:

    These writings are stirring to read. It shows what awake, alive, people there are out there.
    But – still thinking it’s me – my body – I have to look after it, and – well, we can’t do or appreciate or participate in the other things without it. Body and Soul – Body/Soul.
    Sorry- I have a tendency to hold onto ideas. Like a terrier with a stick.
    I’ll stop now – until the next blog entry!

  67. Dom Conlon says:

    My soul is a raindrop, nothing much on its own – incapable of sustaining life but capable of refracting light. And in the right place, at the right time, it can be a drink, a river, an ocean. Then a cloud.

  68. Elli says:

    I think I would like my soul would be a note of music. A single note, one which would pierce the air, and which could lead to so much, from a song of joy that bubbled up spontaneously, to a song of the deepest despair. Sometimes it might sound beautiful, at other times harsh, at other times pained. The note would be constantly striving to find new songs, new meanings, and while the note itself would be constant it would at the same time never rest with constancy. It could not be seen by the human eye, or grasped by human hands, but it would have its own unique identity, if people became still, and listened.

  69. Mia Wolff says:

    A piece of sea glass

  70. Valerianna says:

    The first thing that popped into my head was a beautiful river stone. One with lines crossing this way and that, some kind of ancient river’s rune story, tumbled and washed long past the time when anyone understood the language of rivers – or stones. Holding it and gently running a finger over the smoothness lifts the riverwords from its surface.

    What a beautiful post and comment stream – so rich! Thank you for the prompt that drew this dreaming from me. 🙂

  71. SDD says:

    My soul object would be a well worn, ear marked, and water damage page from a beloved story. The passage on the page, precious, but no one knows to whom – so it is looking for a home and the home is looking for the page.

  72. Maria says:

    I’m not sure what my soul object would be. I thought about the seed – an acorn or an apple tree seed perhaps, though I’m not sure if you can count it as an object. The idea of my soul growing along side me seems so right. I guess at first it wouldn’t be a problem to take care of it – carrying the sapling around in the pot. And as an old lady I could live in the house with a garden with my tree in the centre of it.

  73. sarah says:

    What a beautiful idea. My soul would be wrapped in an acorn wrapped in chiffon wrapped in silence, so I can not tell you what object it would be. But I have loved reading the other answers. And now I must see if I can find that book 🙂

  74. LORI L Mitchell says:

    I would have a camera that never needed batteries or charging.

  75. A postage stamp. I wanted to write it down before I over-thought it. A conveyance that carries a thing from here to there, an encouragement to communicate, a commemoration. My son gave a copy of this book for Christmas and his friend read it in about a day. He’s ordered a copy for us. I can’t wait. xo

  76. Steven E. Popp says:

    My soul object is a gossamer spider web
    As I have aged
    it has caught many things
    but has become tattered and torn in the process
    someday it will unanchor
    and blow free in the wind

    Thank you for your wonderful blog here and thanks to our friend Terri Windling for directing me here!

  77. Penny says:

    My soul would be a pellucid-coloured wand in earth and sea tones. Changing colour with my mood; it would show me direction when I faltered, bring peace when I grieved and creativity, etched into every tale I write.

  78. Jessica Bigi says:

    Chimes of shells and crystals playing songs of all the words ever spoken to me with wind song voices in garden room of life

  79. Julie Douglas says:

    I have loved reading everyone’s thoughts on this. It really made me think. My object would be a small, leather bound photograph album. I have always loved photographs, both looking at old photos and taking new ones. But throughout our lives I think the most important people, places, occasions and experiences become photographs in our memory. My album would keep together in one place images of my loves, inspirations and guides with space for new ones to be added in time.

  80. Maybe a camera – something I always want to have with me, and reflecting my belief that observing and experiencing the world around us is not just a pleasurable pursuit but the most important thing we can do. The world is shaped by our observations and bearing witness to beauty feels to me like the most important role of conscious intelligent life in the Universe, so as an object to embody my soul it seems appropriate. Musing on the question a bit more I wondered if I’d feel more comfortable with something less prone to breaking or getting outdated – so maybe the camera bag that I’ve used for decades while the camera inside has been replaced and upgraded (or downgraded) from film to digital…
    If I’m honest, my first thought was a cocktail shaker . I’ve collected shakers since I was a teenager and love the fact that a beautiful, simple, purpose-driven design is devoted to nothing more than maximising the pleasure from a simple indulgence. If we can’t enjoy our time in the world what’s the point?

  81. Christine Zuber says:

    Thank you Jackie for this wonderful question and the answers show the uniqueness of us all and are also very inspiring. If it’s just one thing, which I doubt, for me it’s a map for adventures and discoveries, treasures. But I also like the thought that we are born with a special tune, we long to hear during lifetime, and with a key to open hearts, with a feather or Piece of fur to connect with animals and the ability to be incredibly happy. I can imagine a box of things and everyone has a different content, perfectly matching for the pursuit of the soul’s purpose.

  82. Dawn Finch says:

    A small yet infinite, cracked crystal bottle of black ink that sits high in the branches of a tree. The leak that stains, bleeds words, obliterates others, leaves indelible marks as it trickles away. Slowly dripping ink in dark rivulets, tiny facets of the bottle occasionally glittering in the moving shadows of the tree as it reaches up to the unknown.
    I think that about sums my soul up if I have one.

  83. Virginia Oakley says:

    My soul would be a small scrap of red flannel cloth, the remains of a shirt my grandmother wore.i imagine I can still smell it on her. She was my heart.

  84. Kay A. Williams says:

    Mine would be this beautiful piece of driftwood given to me from a friend, he found it beside the River in Wawona where we both were living in Yosemite National Park. It has stayed by my side it seems like forever..

  85. Barbara Band says:

    Water … essential to life … cool, clear, sparkling … angry, grey, raging. A force that can shape mountains with a slow trickle over time, that finds its own level distinct from the elements that surround it. The component of fierce storms, soothing baths, calm lakes, running rivers … water.

  86. Thomas Pitchford aka The Library Spider says:

    Wow – I know I over-analyse things but I do have so many more questions than answers.

    So it appears you know what your soul is in. Do others? Can they figure it out? Only if you tell them?

    Making the object something potentially so fragile (an ice cube!!!) is great for a story idea. Can the object be re-shaped or re-fashioned, like carving or polishing a piece of stone? Can the object be used relatively safely, like a pen or an axe or a car or a nail? You don’t want to destroy your soul object, but what if it is damaged? What constitutes as damage anyways (see carving the stone)?

    There is obvious safety in keeping your soul object nearby but what if you could safely hide your soul somewhere else? Does it have to be near you? Leaving that ice cube in the Antarctic could be the smartest move you make!

    But the most extraordinary idea I can’t shake is do you HAVE to LIKE your soul object? This list is full of items people adore and like and use. What if my soul object was a baseball? Or a paperclip? Maybe a coin? Or a bottle of whiskey (that I assume can’t be consumed, right?)? A paper cup? A used paper cup? A used Macdonald’s paper cup? Or how about an unknown thing, the type of object some antique shows feature and ask if you can guess what it is or for what it is was used?

    So as I look around my web and I see books, pictures, figurines, autographs, the post, a tea mug that really needs to be washed, trinkets, gadgets and so forth, a bizarre but equally sweet and practical idea strikes me. An object that should always be with me, but nonetheless flawed, able to be damaged, stolen or worst of all lost, but maybe useful, with purpose, maybe even a purpose not yet known to me. I look at my keyring and for the first time I spy a key for which I do not know what door it opens. I know I will find that door one day, mind you, no rush, but I will be quite excited and a quite scared to see what is on the other side of it when I finally place it in a particular lock and hear the tumblers clatter.

    • Jackie says:

      Wonderful. You really need to read the story in The Paper Menagerie. But yes, this is what art is all about, asking questions, finding answers that lead on to more questions. That’s the key.

  87. As a child, I always visualised the soul as a small, oyster-shaped pancake, probably made of something floaty. Not sure I can revisualise it now… But maybe I can extrapolate from the oyster and have a beautiful shell. When you put it to your ear, it breathes stories.

  88. Bernie Bell says:

    Hello Mr. Spider
    Well, I never said that I like my body!
    Quite a few bits of it don’t work well, some never have done! Some bits of it hurt most of the time. It limits what I can do. Could be worse – has been worse, and I’m thankful that I can do the things I can do, but… does limit me, and I do have to try hard not to be annoyed with it.
    I never said I like it – but I do believe it to be the receptacle of the essential me – my ‘soul’ if folk want to call it that. So, we rub along together as best we can, me and my body.

  89. Danette says:

    I have sat here reading all these wonderful comments & feel like I have been peeping into a secret world. My soul is battered at the moment, its not the strongest part of me which for a long time it was, it was the thing that I held tight on when life was hard because no matter what happened, my soul could not be taken away. Life is curious & flips things on their head sometimes, right now my soul is fragile & in need of nourishment & reassurance. It needs some nurturing & restoring. I do that by being on the beach, walking & looking at the sea & feel better for it afterwards. I think then it would be a piece of sea glass that fell from a mermaid’s necklace as she slipped back into the sea as she heard me approaching. Smooth & worn & quite different from how it originally looked but still able to be reset into another necklace & become a thing of beauty again.
    I can’t recall how I found you on Twitter but I drink up your tweets,thankyou for them, am overjoyed to read your blog too.
    ps Yarrow is that you?…….

  90. Bernie Bell says:

    I’m sending you love, Danette.
    To combine two of Jackie’s blog posts – Souls and Music – you could listen to ‘Everybody Hurts’ by R.E.M. (if you like them!) and…………………HOLD ON!

  91. Judith says:

    A needle and thread because some times mending torn things can give you courage as
    well as peace.

  92. Elizabeth Diekhof says:

    I have collected many small treasures over the years that have journeyed with me. The item that fills me with the most joy, is a jar of beach glass that I collected on long walks with my children. It takes time and patience to find these jewels tucked between sand and stones. The weathered edges are worn down from the repeated rolling of the waves in the same way that we humans develop empathy and our sharp edges are worn smooth. I think my soul would be a small piece of blue glass waiting to be picked up and put into a pocket to be cherished.

  93. robin says:

    A note, or maybe a collection in rhythm…

  94. Mia Wolff says:

    A small stainless steel shackle.. I used to be in the circus and shackles were indispensable, and beautiful .

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