Heart-Over-Head Living

Another year has flown by, faster than the last. I want to slow Life down, but I also relish turning the page to a new chapter, a new season, a new year. Life is change and choices and letting go and new beginnings. Every day newness and possibilities. Every new day I can choose to be better, love better, give more, take less.

I look at the calendar and I am bemused. I am old I guess. Yet the child within me is so very present and alive. I am grateful I never lost her – or if I did for a time, that I found her again. The view looking back over six decades for me is like looking at a colorful and fascinating tapestry, unfinished but patterns are evident. I see my child’s happy innocence, my teenager’s confidence and grand plans, my young adult’s disappointment and pain, my adult’s ambivalent maturation and compulsiveness, and my aging self’s quest for the peace found in joy and wisdom. I also see a randomness laced with adventures suggesting lack of forethought, an impulsivity that adds to its rather wild, vivid beauty and form.

I can see my father smiling and wondering at the many twists and turns, saying as he would, “have you lost your head?” Well, maybe so on occasion during those formative years. Thing is, looking back, there have been countless occasions over the course of my entire adult life. Countless turning points and crossroads where my head lost to my heart. Decisions made that “just felt right.” Intuition over reason. Cause for smiling, not wincing at outcomes and unintended consequences. Cause for celebration of living Life as boldly as possible, and shutting out the noise, the opinions, the plentiful reasons “why not.”

Looking back at critical decision points in my life I tried most always to follow my heart. My head, the practical voice, has lost many important arguments to my heart’s quiet whisper. Where does wisdom live? Surely there is a balance between the two but I cannot pretend to have found it.

I observe earnest, sensible people living their advancing adult lives far more carefully and seriously, setting life stage goals, working hard, building and participating in their chosen community. Achieving “security” is a strong focus for many. It’s an understandable and worthy goal, but if it means a fear-based life – always seeking the elusive future “enough” – then it’s not for me. I don’t mean to live in denial, but for me, engaging in too much future worry and planning can make for an anxious, unhappy, and static present.

Surely many people die disappointed in themselves with stubborn regrets. Regret is a cruel companion. When one sneaks up on me I feel it’s intrusive, annoyingly tenacious reach. I try to look it squarely in the eye, and ascertain the hard lesson it brings, or simply notice some lingering grief for what could have been but was not to be. So many decision points in our life are critical ones though we may not know it at the time, crossroads that determine the course of our life.

Regret can hang around unwanted, so when it shows itself I tell it, “you may go away now, for that is past and I choose to be happy and grateful in and for the here and now.” I re-engage my feet and keep moving in a forward direction, hopefully leaving the nagging thoughts in the dust. When it’s time to leave this world, I hope to have peace looking back, feel good about my contribution, and be able to say I held life lightly, lovingly, and at my best, reverently.

My attempt to live as fearlessly as possible, trusting Life, trusting my heart, has brought hard and beautiful lessons. To the critical eye, fearless living is reckless living, lacking in sensibility. Maybe so, but for me, doing the nonsensical sometimes because my heart said “Yes!” seems in many cases to have ultimately made perfect sense.

One of my favorite lines (title of a book by Terry Cole- Whittaker) is “What you think of me is none of my business.” I’m not yet there, oblivious to others’ opinions of me and my life choices, but how I desire that place of pure living. I wish to remain brave and true to myself coupled with an urgent awareness of the brevity of life. If I can stay fearless in the so-called golden years, I fully expect a gem of an ending.