Saturday, April 24, 2010

Pursuing That Which Captures Your Heart

"Certain things capture your eye,
but pursue only that which captures your heart."

The wisdom in this Native American saying struck me immediately when I first read it, and it ties into the important questions, like:

~ Which career field should I pursue in getting a degree or changing my job? One that pays me well, even though I don't really have a passion for it, or something more risky, that may or may not result in a fat salary?

~ How much time and energy should I put into a relationship that's "just okay" because no one else is around to fill the void? Or should I end it so I can fill that time doing two things: 1) further developing my interests and talents, and 2) seeking a new relationship that resonates with me?

These are the kind of tough decisions we have to make. Sometimes there are no options. You get what you get and are damned lucky to get that.

But what if you've been trained all your life to be near-sighted or blind to other options?

Certain types of "vision problems" are taught to us about family, friendships, hobbies, school, career, and love... the list is much longer than this. We are taught, often wordlessly and by example, what to see, think and feel, and to parrot it all back whether we've bought into it or not.

"Life is without meaning.
You bring meaning to it."

- Joseph Campbell

Learning to see more takes time, effort, perseverance, and curiosity. Attempting this, almost as a rule, results in self-doubt and criticism.

Self-doubt is good; it keeps you on your toes and keeps you honest. Criticism is too; it sharpens you so you'll know what the hell you're talking about and can defend it, at least with those who aren't intentionally deaf.

The alternative to following your passion
is to blow through life, like a leaf in the wind.

This can leave your heart restless and unfulfilled, and is risky too: if you get what you desire, it will be the result of sheer luck, not self-discovery, and as such, may be taken for granted.

For some people, their temperament is such that nothing really captures their heart that they find worth pursuing. This is hardly a crime and nothing to feel guilty about or a reason to harass someone.

Others are so cautious that rolling the dice on a new path sends them into dreadful kind of anxiety. This can be a good thing, as it may be their gut (intuition) telling them something their mind hasn't been able to put words to or accept, such as they shouldn't try xyz because doing so will result in too high a cost from the effort, or disaster due personal or external problems that are flying under the radar. Pay attention to that voice, too.

Otherwise, when there is something there in your soul that yearns to be free, submitting to it may open up a whole new world for you.

“When you follow your bliss...
doors will open where you would
not have thought there would be doors;
and where there wouldn't be a door for anyone else.”

- Joseph Campbell

Now, I ain't gonna lie to you; this isn't always true in real life. However, it's more true for those who pursued that which captured their heart, than for those who didn't.


  1. Oso, I saw where you had a problem with the comments and ended up leaving three duplicates. Sorry and I hope that's self-corrected by Blogger tomorrow. I tried to delete two but all three disappeared, so I put one back but then the first reappeared. It's crazy.

    Anyway, I so agree with, "It's better to get up early every morning doing something you want to do, better than something you have to do, if both pay the bills."

    It's the "if" that too often gets in the way, darn it.

  2. I like this a lot...much food for thought. I am in a place where I really need to make some decisions. Once before I took a shortcut in terms of finding my bliss and interesingly enough the same path and choices I poo-pooed keep coming up. I am starting to take that as a sign. Since the same frustations I had years ago keep coming up.

    I think I need to direct a few folks I know to read this post.

  3. BGIM, Thank you, and I'm glad you got something out of it.

    I could have padded the post with many examples, but I kept it generic so any of us can apply it to our own situations.

  4. My dad always told me to follow my dreams, because money will come and go no matter what you do. He's one of those folks who would rather be doing what he loves (even if he's got to take on a second job to pay the bills) than collect a fat check doing meaningless work.

    I was drawn to social work at a point in time and considered becoming a therapist, but I have too much empathy for people. I know that I wouldn't be able to separate myself from the job and would probably end up a single workaholic out of sheer guilt that I wasn't doing enough. That's why I do my best to stay away from folks who are constantly caught up in drama, because it just messes up my emotional energy.

    So when it comes to dreams vs. stability, I chose the middle path in doing law--I want to do public interest work, possibly in employment & labor, but if I can't get a job in that field I can still practice in another area. And thanks to the entrepreneurship class I took this semester, I have a viable business plan that I could develop if all else fails. Still, I'd really love to become a judge someday. We need more compassion in the justice system and so much of that power is used irresponsibly.


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