I had a meeting recently with a dear friend and colleague who is a business coach and life guru. We first just got together for me to share some tips on photography, but we ended up over lunch talking about me and what I wanted in my business and life. She said two things to me that really hit me, simple and basic, and I want to share them with you…
When I was telling her (very vaguely) what I wanted in my life, I was unsure and stumbling all over my words. I realized that I really wasn’t focused on what I was saying because I was too tired and stressed out and didn’t know for sure what I was feeling. She said to me that she didn’t see the “sparkle” in my eyes when I was telling her about what I wanted to do. Then later on in the conversation she said that I needed to get alone and find out “where my heart goes”. That was it, that opened the gateway to thought and exploration. Finding out where my heart goes will lead me to the passion my life requires! Now, several days later, I realize that finding where “my heart is going” is a real soul search!
I am a preacher’s kid. Grew up in the church, was active in it all my young and teenage life. I was a Jesus-Freak back in the day, protesting, passing out tracks on the streets, singing about Jesus in parking lots, ministering to street people. Then as a young adult I was active in leadership in the church. I co-pastored, taught Sunday school to adults, led a big choir and ran a music program, went to prisons, fed the hungry. I was passionate. Then life happens and we find ourselves moving on from a place of zeal into a place of “doing”. I really felt the reality of that when I got a divorce. We move on…right?
Well, yes, and no. We move on to grow up, mature and embrace a larger piece of life and reality. But we also move away from the things that once brought a sense of purpose and fire to our hearts – the passion, the mission, the camaraderie of serving. After talking to my friend this past week, I realized that we can move away from our heart’s path without ever knowing it. We get cluttered up with the stuff we have to do, so much so, that we fail to take the time to listen to our hearts. I have always believed that we are given certain talents, desires and gifts to use in this life. If we don’t use them, then what the hell?
The truth is, I miss the passion, the mission, and the camaraderie I grew up with. I miss working together with people who are seeking something better, wanting to give love with no strings attached. I am haunted by memories of my past when my goals consisted of more than building a business, making money or getting a project done. There is something each of us have within us that turns us on, something that stokes the fire that makes us who we are. We are willing to follow it, commit to it, live for it, work for it and yes, sacrifice for it.
I think that we must treat our own hearts like we treat the heart of our lover. It must be nurtured, romanced and tended. If I spend the time with my heart, seeking it’s desire, then I am confident I will experience the passion, the intrigue, the joy, of KNOWING it.
Here’s to slowing down and emptying the busyness out for a time so that my heart can sing to me!
Love and Peace!
Thanks for the thoughtful post. I think those of us that have lived a while have experienced what you have described. Earlier in our lives we often have personal and professional experiences that bring us joy, fulfillment, and income. This triad of benefits becomes a psychological marker of sorts. And that would be great if life continued on, uninterrupted, in a marvelous upward arc of greater joy, greater fulfillment, and greater income.
But frequently, that arc is broken by forces we could not have seen or forecast. And the marvelous journey upward and outward is cut short. Like a space craft that fails to achieve orbit, we find ourselves careening back to earth, experiencing the heat, friction, and discomfort of re-entry into a life we thought we had left behind, that time of uncertainty, lack of fulfillment, and perhaps a paucity of income. For me, it is like turning 61 and feeling 16 again . . . only I know too much to re-enter that adolescent mindset of boundless optimism. I feel like I have been overcome by an avalanche of bad fortune, tossed asunder, and before long realize I am sliding backwards, not to a place of previous joy, fulfillment, or income. No, I feel like I am sliding towards a place that lacks those things.
And in the culture of youth that we helped create, we are now the older ones . . . and it is tempting to believe what we did when we were young, that “older folks” have nothing much to add. That they (now we) don’t “get it.” Well, I was wrong then . . .
What I am learning to do is to reconnect with those parts of me that animated me in my younger years BUT to do so with the wisdom and experience that life has brought me. It is the fusion of those two parts of me, part young and part older, that has become the secret to the “new me.” I still dream big dreams but I know where many of the traps are that entangle younger people. I can fly fast and know how to handle turbulence and stormy weather, conditions that intimidate people in their 30s and 40s. And I know now more than ever in my life that the One who loves me so deeply is drawing me like a tractor beam to what I am meant to be . . . all I have to do is find that beam and let it pull me. I cannot imagine all that awaits me but if Love is pulling me, why should I fear the future?
To return to the “space flight” analogy, I think of myself as piloting a space shuttle . . . a craft made to reach orbit, unload astronauts and materiel, and then return to earth. So, though I’ve made a steep descent from my life’s orbit in my late 40’s and 50’s, that’s okay. The friction of my return from that orbit was caused by the increasing density of the atmosphere, which actually gave lift to my shuttle’s wings. That’s the marvel of the space shuttle . . . it can reach space like a rocket and return to earth like a bird, gracefully floating to a landing with no power other than the force of gravity and the lift provided by the thick air we breathe.
Now, I am returning to space. I return wiser . . . I’ve been to space before, orbited the earth, performed many tasks, and learned from it. And I’m ready for a return trip.
The main stage rockets have ignited, the booster rockets are reaching full throttle, and my shuttle is once again accelerating through the atmosphere towards that beautiful starry sky . . . And I am commander of my shuttle. That is good: I am older, wiser, but with all the passion of my youth.
And this time . . . low earth orbit is just a stop on my journey. This time I’m headed for the moon.
So beautiful Mark, thanks so much for sharing, this hits me right square in my life! All I can add is “beam me up Scottie!”