...from little acorns grow.
In Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert quotes the Zen Buddhists who believe (in short) that the oak tree creates the acorn with its longing to exist. My future self read this and laughed. A little smugly if you ask me. She's such a know it all. In her defence, I did send her calls to voicemail for a very long time.
Because I was born, as I believe we all are, with a bold and visionary heart. And then, well, life. I learned to stop listening and to start, ugh I can't even say it without shuddering, thinking. And not just any kind of thinking. Not the kind of thinking that leads to E=mc2, but small, limited mind thinking driven by an insistent, terrified ego. I began to forget that I was free. That there was a path already written in my heart. "Maktub" Paolo Cohelo reminded us in The Alchemist. "It is written."
A younger version of myself, knowing this to be true, wondered why exactly given that my life was predestined I was required to actually do anything. Wasn't it all just going to happen? Well, yes and no. Is every moment predestined? I don't think so. Don't get me started on Quantum Physics and free will. But there do appear to be a few major beats that are destined to be hit, and some kind of an intended energetic end game.
The path in my case has always been painfully insistent but thankfully never without purpose. The desires that guide me onto it seem designed specifically to create a willingness in me to do what I need to do to evolve, access my potential and become whole or actualised. Of course a person with a terror of her own voice would long to be a writer. Of course a person who needs to learn to be still, or at the very least slow down, would fall in love with a person who operates at the speed of a three legged tortoise. In fact the more in love I am with something or someone, the more of my unrealised potential and unawakened shadow self I seem to have to face and transform in order to hold it in my hand. Because that's the point.
For the first part of my life, the map appeared to me as ideas. You might call them dreams. And then my meditation practice became more committed and I began to feel my path. It sounds abstract, but truly, I began to experience the desires of my heart as having a very clear energetic form and a strong magnetic pull. There also became almost no distinction between my desire for it, and its desire for me. No separation at all. And there was also a timeless quality to the desires. As if they had always existed, already did exist and would always exist. They could not be gained or lost because they already were, and had always been.
And just when you think it's all about having lovely heart tugging visions and falling in love, the work really begins. Trusting in the seemingly unconnected, irrelevant directions. I'm the kind of person who reads a recipe and thinks that it's creator had a nice idea but that I could improve on it. This is mostly how I respond to my inner directions too. I feel the desire, I feel that wonderful feeling you only get in the presence of things that are 'right' or true and then I come back into the present moment and wait for the coordinates to show up. And it often goes a little something like this...
With all my heart, I want to be a writer. Future me gets very excited. She loves it when I actually take her calls. It all feels so 'right'. Then comes the next thought. You should stop drinking. And whilst you're at it, throw in smoking too. And then comes the next thought. What does that have to do with the spiritual epiphany I just had about being a writer? I guess I'm not supposed to be a writer then. I must have got it wrong. And anyway, haven't all the great writers been big drinkers and smokers? That whole listen to your heart thing is for crazy people. I am not a writer, I am a crazy person. Or...
I want to get married. Future me gets excited again. The map shows up. And it says...start committing to who you truly are in every aspect of your life. Commit to what's in your heart. Volunteer to commit to something that will require you to be in the same place at the same time every week for a year. Learn what you do not yet know about commitment. I look at the map, can't see the relevance, or I can but it seems too uncomfortable. I switch off the GPS and go back to hoping that it will all just happen. Or I'll get to it later. Like those ever elusive Italian classes. "Io sono inglese." Seriously, after 44 years that's still all I've got.
And here's the other thing. Desire is mostly touted as a dirty word in spiritual circles. And certainly my ego's desires can feel that way. They have an urgent quality to them. They feel restless, they want me to chase them while making sure they are always just out of reach. My heart's desires feel strangely as though they have already been achieved while calling me from the future. They seem only to exist to create expansion of some kind. Joy, love, security, wisdom, strength. To draw me closer to what is true. They can sometimes feel overwhelming, because of the distance between where I am and where they want me to be. Or they seem too good to be true. But true is the most consistent quality they contain. They feel as if they just are. They operate outside of time. And if I allow them, if I am willing to release my resistance to being changed by them, they appear like magic.
Call it your north star, God calling, your life's purpose, your calling, call it what you will. We need never be without the GPS system, our own inner oak tree, that is calling us with every single beat of our heart. Every second I believe is guided, always calling us to complete well being and joy, no matter what our starting point. Because following your heart is no cliche. Nor is it the prerogative of children or the wealthy. It is in fact the only way I know of for any of us to live in accordance with our true nature. To be well, balanced, present, provided for, happy and best of all, true.
Martha Beck writes BRILLIANTLY on this topic and you can find her here.