Now, look deeper. What do you really want? Take a moment and think about it.
While you’re thinking, let me first give a big thanks to all who stop by and give support on this first post. I appreciate you all.
To begin with, I thought I’d touch on a point many of us struggle with: the difference between what we say or believe we want and what we really desire. We receive so many messages growing up and even once we reach adulthood about what we ought to be and desire. Our parents, teachers, siblings, relatives, favorite superheroes, religious leaders, and society give us decrees and images about what they expect of us, many of them conflicting. Go to college, Make good grades. Stand up for yourself, but don’t start fights. Eat this way. Eat that way. You should be tall and beautiful, feminine and slim, have a six-pack and tan. Be a doctor, a lawyer, a president. You’ll never do better than flipping burgers. Respect everyone. Respect only those that deserve it. Love is a feeling, and without it, marriage cannot last. Marriage is commitment and has little to do with love. The list goes on and on. I’m sure you could expand it vastly.
But amidst all this, that soft voice inside us whispers what we really want. Sometimes, we get so many messages that the voice gets muddled like someone trying to talk to us when our heads are under water. Sometimes, the external messages are in alignment to our true desires, so our internal voice remains clear. But such is rare fortune.
Often, our desires shift throughout life with different experiences and growth. If the conflicting messages weren’t problem enough, this fact makes it astronomically more difficult to figure out who we are inside.
The other day, I watched The Very Long Night of Londo Mollari, an episode from the fifth season of J. Michael Straczynski’s Babylon 5—Netflix is fantastic. In The Very Long Night of Londo Mollari, Londo must face the consequences of ignoring his heart and making the extensive series of dark choices that lead him to the brink of death. Lennier too confronts a conflict of heart when his circumstances run counter to his wishes.. I’ll not give many more details to avoid ruining the episode for any interested in watching it. Rather, I want to focus on one line that summarizes all, “I must follow the calling of my heart.” This line is heard often in the series, being a favorite of the Minbari, but at the episode’s close, leaving two characters we have grown to love over the first four seasons much changed, we wonder exactly what the nuances of that phrase might be.
I honestly believe that deep inside, we know the calling of our hearts. The trick is to learn to listen and distinguish it from all the other voices around and inside us.
Growing up I, like many of you, went through a variety of occupations I intended to pursue from paleontologist to writer, from homeopathic doctor to research psychologist. Even when I graduated college, I had no idea what I was doing. I took a semester of graduate school, not because I wanted it or it fit into a greater plan, but because school had comprised my life for so long that I could not imagine existence without it. I was terribly afraid and clung to the familiar rather than dare trust myself and take that gut-wrenching step into the larger world.
Over time, a few aspects of my life began to become clear. I recognized this from listening to myself through all the detours I’d taken and noticing what I kept coming back to: family and writing.
Family, as much as it was essential to me, was also sometimes one of the biggest forces that muffled that inner voice. I wanted good relationships with my family. I wanted to make my parents proud. But sometimes, through no fault of their own, making my parents proud or pleasing them went against who I really was. (And we’re not talking trivial momentary desires that affect everyone at all ages.) It took be realizing that I can have a decent relationship with my family without sacrificing myself. It might not be exactly as I dreamed of—no perfect understanding—but it’s healthiest for everyone. In the long run, all that soul searching and struggling paid off.
I gave writing up sometime in middle school or early high school. As much as I could hardly let a day go by without working on some sort of story whether written, told, played, read, or watched, I let the facts that most people who try to publish never make it, that a writer’s pay often never covers the bills, and that it isn’t the most respected career detour me from the path my heart demanded. But I could not stop inventing and experiencing stories. Even when I gave up being an author, I kept returning to story in one form or another. At last, I had to come clean with myself and admit that storytelling was an undeniable part of my soul and one I needed to acknowledge to be complete.
We are never fully whole, I think, if we deny the calling of our hearts. They need acknowledgement, even if just in words, and our hearts need us to learn to listen to them. It is a difficult process and one that takes time and lasts our whole lives, but we certainly owe it to ourselves and those we love to try.
So what about you? What is the calling of your heart? How do you determine it? Do you struggle with listening to your heart amidst all the messages of life and society?
Again, thanks for visiting. I’ll see you Friday for my next installment.