Listen, are you breathing just a little,
and calling it alife?…
For how long will you continue to listen to those dark shouters,
caution and prudence?
Fall in! Fall in!
– Mary Oliver
The last few years of my life have been a sort of crazy push-me-pull-you pilgrimage of revelation and growth. Enabled by a Heinz 57 variety of therapies – cognitive, coaching, bodywork, reading, writing, medical – my brain is finally making unexpected connections: between then and now, cause and effect, emotions and behaviors. Some of these moments of clarity are less life-changing than explanatory. But others – well, others magically brush aside the ghosts blocking the way, enabling another step forward into the breach. It’s like being re-born in teensy little chunks – rewarding, yet frustratingly slow.
Last week, I emailed a friend about watching election returns online Tuesday night and, at one point as I followed a local media thread, suffering a sharp pang of regret that I was here and not there. I suddenly missed the adrenaline rush I get from being so intimately involved in a cause, or a project or performance, with a group of people who become so close they are like family.
In response, my correspondent related the experience that day of a mutual acquaintance who led a good-government initiative in her hometown. It crashed and burned at the polls. “Politics can rip your heart out, too,” he wrote. But not if you don’t put it out there.
I haven’t put my heart out there for a while now. The last time I did, it got stomped but good, and so I’ve retreated, often forgetting how much I’ve grown because of it. I was reminded of that this week, too. Fearing that our hearts will break, we hold back, unable to fight our way free and move on – from jobs that chip away at the soul and half-lives that we’re not entirely happy with.
My days out here in the real world seem disconnected from the life that swirls within. What is lacking in my outer world is passion: for a job, a cause, a lover – for life. But the lioness within lies in wait for the object of her affection, for the synchronicity that comes when the outer life is aligned with the inner.
Love is all about knowing that you may get your heart broken and falling anyway. I’m ready to be all in.