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Following my Heart (Part One)

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About a half hour north on a dirt road off the highway is a small tin roof stand selling Coco Frio, ice cold, fresh coconuts. We stop for a drink. They slice off the top of the green football sized fruits, plop in a straw and the cool watery liquid slides down into the depths of my heated body. It’s the rainy season and oh, so hot and humid. I feel a breeze from a passing car, my eyes following it with longing. Any breeze is a sacred gift. We drive another hundred meters or so to another dirt road, this one guiding us far from the sounds of the highway into rolling fields and then … the jungle. It surrounds the river like a lush elegant cloak, vibrating with life, with energy, with humidity I can taste. We drive through mud, rocks, even fording the river once or twice. We get out, gather our back packs already wet with heavy air, and begin our trek. The birds tempt me to miss my steps. What color was that one? The plants whisper secrets. I am glowing with intrigue, hardly able to act like a normal human being. It’s all too much for my senses to hold in with composure. And then, we see it. The river rises up, the jungle reaches down, everything leads us there. I hear the rushing, anticipate the sight, but I am still without a voice. The white water pours over the boulders echoing deep into my ears. Down it falls with compete conviction. I look below to the pool it forms; crystal clear, bubbling like soda ready to tickle my skin. I can hardly wait! And then … the butterflies. Some orange, some iridescent white, and they’re everywhere. They swirl and dive, playing like fairies alive with life’s secrets. They come and greet us, kissing our shoulders, dusting the air with magic. I want to weep but smile. I want to cry but only cover my mouth. I can’t believe the treasures of my life. Is this what it means to follow your heart?
To get to this place, to dwell in the sweet spots I unknowingly but intuitively craved, I had to surrender, to slow down enough to feel the arms of the Universe wrap around my starving, struggling soul, to let its raw energy flow through me lest a life of a starved soul would prevail. I didn’t know why this uninvited energy chose to course through my veins, how to interpret what I was feeling, nor even what it was that chewed away at the very fibers of my perfect, hyper-normal life. My intellectual self, she who for so many years held the reins, was engulfed in chaotic mystery. It was terrifying. And yet, from a place I now know as my most authentic Self, it was one of the most hopeful, beautiful, life-affirming times of my entire life.

I lived as a perfect wife with a perfect husband in a perfect community with a perfect life. I kept a spotless house decorated as if it fell from the pages of your favorite catalogue, cooked ravishing meals, kept an ever-blossoming garden, even managed to work a full-time job, a job I enjoyed. My husband was pretty attentive, he seemed to want the same things I did, he even surprised me now and again like he used to when we were dating. I didn’t analyze much about what I had or what I did, I just followed the rules, did what was expected of me—lived. I considered myself a conscious individual and this was the life I had always dreamed of. Wasn’t it?

How many of us live lives we think through to be best for us, lives our minds tell us we should appreciate, lives others would do anything to have? If we do ever wield our swords in an effort to carve out our own paths we might be called moody, unreasonable, hormonally imbalanced, sometimes even mentally ill. We wonder to ourselves if these protests to our desired change of path, no matter how small, are indeed true, if we are crazy to be turning our heads from something perfect in favor of something unknown, something our hearts beg to taste. And what if I do leap and for the first time in Zen history, the net does not appear? What then? Will I be left all alone shivering in the darkness surrounded by nodding heads all taunting I told you so’s? Is there an intellect that can possibly comfort me on this intuitive journey of mine? Is anyone out there, we bellow out into the unknown.
The law of attraction tells us that “like attracts like.” If we honk our horns in anger, we create anger in others and should expect another horn, literally or figuratively, to be blown back in our direction. What we exude will return to us. If something inside us calls us to change our paths, to honor our hearts in a new way, and if we choose to listen, the net has no choice but to appear, for we will attract it, we will create that which we need. The challenge comes in letting the energy of this wise, heart-centered aspect of our deepest Selves flow through us so thoroughly that we don’t miss what sits before our eyes. In order to be used, the treasures we have attracted to help us on our paths must first be seen.

When my husband could not support me on my path, when he could not find the space for the energy within me that ached to be set free, I had no choice but to go ahead alone. I could not survive in an environment that required my wings to be bound. So with nothing but raw energy, I set out to leap and to discover what nets lay waiting to catch my fall. I went back to a time when I felt truly happy. I visited my wildest dreams. I unearthed my childhood fantasies. And there, amidst the rubble, I found a little voice that called me to travel to rural Mexico. Was it really speaking to me? I didn’t know, but I was certainly going to find out.

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