Friday, April 23, 2010

Pause for thought

Yesterday I had a very interesting and challenging discussion with a dear friend and erstwhile authority figure in my life whom I had not seen for several months. This friend told me that, in his opinion, I was being selfish and cowardly in relinquishing my previous life, my career and all its responsibilities and my opportunities for making a contribution in order to follow my heart to the Tsitsikamma forest. He also said that my ideas made no sense at all to him and he indicated that he thought I was deluded or possibly under the influence of some external influencing person or circumstance. Furthermore he told me that he thought I considered myself more “noble” or somehow superior to others because of the choices I was making about the kind of life I wished to live.

What struck me very powerfully about this interaction is that just a few short months ago I would have been absolutely devastated to have heard this person’s negative opinion of myself and my venture. It had always been really important to me to do the “right” thing in order to be considered in a favourable light, particularly by the authority figures in my life. I suppose I believed that I really needed “daddy’s” approval. I had always gone to some considerable lengths to determine what I thought would be the “most right” thing to do and then I would do it, whatever the personal cost. But it didn’t actually bring me that much satisfaction or happiness; certainly not the level of happiness that I now experience whilst doing what my heart guides me to do.

I guess I find that I am now far more interested in being happy than in being “right”!

So, although I can see that many would view what I am doing as wrong or misguided or selfish or ignoble, it somehow doesn’t really matter that much to me because what I am doing is making me happy in a way that I could never have imagined before. This doesn’t mean that I no longer care about my friends and acquaintances from my past – quite the opposite – I care a great deal and I wish for them to have happy and fulfilled lives doing whatever brings them the most satisfaction. I am just no longer willing to sacrifice my own happiness in order to be accepted and loved or in order to have the dubious, and rather empty, satisfaction of believing myself to be doing the “right” thing.

The second thing that struck me about my conversation with my friend yesterday is that it was an immense gift.

Initially when I took the decision to follow my heart I had anticipated all kinds of resistance from friends, family and colleagues. I was really surprised when that was not the case. Mostly people just told me that they wished they had the courage and/or the opportunity to do what I was doing and just about everyone expressed support and good wishes for my new life. Subsequently I have met many new friends, both online and elsewhere, who have expressed support and comprehension for what I am doing. So I suppose I have started to develop a very distorted picture of how most people would perceive my choices. Probably those who found my ideas and choices strange or weird or threatening either did not continue reading my blog, or else did not interact with me.

Yesterday’s meeting was a huge eye-opener and therefore a gift. It allowed me to see my situation and myself from a completely different perspective.

This meeting gave me a much greater insight into what I am requiring of my loved ones in expecting them to accept the choices I am making. And I can also see that some of my choices are causing a great deal of pain and discomfort for people who have been really important in my life. While my friend was talking I found that I was able to look behind his rather harsh words to see the hurt, loss and sense of betrayal that he had experienced as a result of my choices.

When we decide to assume certain roles in life it is like putting on a set of clothing. After a while our friends and colleagues grow accustomed to seeing us in those clothes and it can cause a great deal of confusion, anger or even a sense of betrayal if we decide to reject the set of clothing in favour of another. It is possible that some could even experience this as a rejection of themselves, their friendship or their value systems; possibly even an act of aggression. I had spent a whole lot of time and effort and energy in building up a “persona” which people had come to know and rely upon and I can imagine that it could have been really difficult for some to relinquish their attachment to that specific version of me.

Does any of this make me doubt whether what I am doing is a valid choice for me? Absolutely not. I know in my heart that what I am doing is completely right for me and, for the first time in my life, I don’t require the approval or the validation of anyone or anything external to myself to corroborate that for me.

Do I know where this journey of mine will end? No, again! When some accuse me of not having a proper plan, I have no defense at all, because they are completely right! But somehow that doesn’t really matter because I don’t feel the need to defend my choices or myself anymore. I don’t feel the need to be “right”. My plan is to simply follow my heart in every moment to that which brings me the most happiness.

Is this cowardly?
Is this irresponsible?
Is this selfish?
Does that matter?

And so the journey continues…


Christopher said...

I really enjoy reading your blogs and the writings of your partner "Zingdad" Thank you for sharing. I have been on both sides of this kind of experience and know the emotions that are felt. Really all anyone can and should do is just own them and learn from them.What is right for you IS right for you and the only course of action would be to hold compassion in your heart for all others.My best wishes to you both on your journey and look forward to reading more.Thanks again

Marion said...

" My plan is to simply follow my heart in every moment to that which brings me the most happiness."

I'm glad. Best wishes to you as you follow your heart.

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