I Stopped Listening to my Heart. Here’s what I Learned
“Whoever you are, or whatever it is that you do when you really want something, it’s because that desire originated in the soul of the universe. It’s your mission on Earth.” – Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist.
In seventh grade, our teacher had this interesting take on English tests.
He’d give us a list of words and ask us to write a sentence using each one.
But me being me, had an even more interesting take on his tests.
I’d take all these seemingly random words he gave us and use them to write a story.
He’d be so impressed with my stories that he'd have me read them in front of the class.
I looked like this at the time, not exactly a Glowing Symbol of Charisma
Sure I was an awkward 7th grader, sure I went to Speech Therapy, but the pride I felt reading my work overpowered any doubt, and I read my stories like a pro.
I knew then that writing was my “thing” and fell in love with it.
And ever since, I was convinced writing was my ticket to stardom.
No, it didn’t matter if I had no plan or wasn’t actively working on my craft.
I was good at writing, so naturally, things would work out, and I’d end up like one of those rich, famous people off the back of my words.
It’s easy to leave something in the hands of fate or destiny.
And it’s easier to blame destiny when things don’t go your way.
But the truth is, the universe never kept me from seriously pursuing writing with all I’ve got.
The universe never kept me from setting legitimate goals and creating a plan to achieve them.
If LeBron James decided to stop playing basketball for a couple of months because he didn’t feel like it, he wouldn’t be that good.
(Okay yeah, he’s a 6”8 athletic specimen, he’d probably be alright.)
But Basketball is what his heart tells him to do.
And by listening to his heart, he’s already won.
It doesn’t matter whether he wins or loses his games; he gets to play the sport that makes him feel alive.
(Although if you’re reading this Mr. James, we’re all rooting for Ring #5)
I recently read a passage from a book that hit me like a ton of bricks.
“Right then and there, I decided that I wasn’t going to do what I deep down wanted to do. Little did I know that right at that moment, literally that day, I turned off my gut and my intuition for another six years, and every year after that would be a non-stop struggle, slogging through mud, feeling tired, depressed, lost, and discouraged, before I finally had the courage to live my own legend.”
- Alexander Heyne, Milk The Pigeon
It was clear I was staring at a mirror, only unlike my usual experiences with mirrors, I didn’t like what I saw.
These last couple of months were some of the worst in my life, and I stopped writing as a result.
At least that’s what I told myself.
I realized then that I had it the wrong way around this entire time.
Because I stopped writing, these last few months sucked.
For a while now, I’d silence the calling from my heart to pull out a fresh Word doc and express myself by binging The Office or Pizza Pops, usually both.
And to be honest, the thought that there are people who live their whole lives that way scares me.
The thought that a few months could become a few years, then a few decades pretty quickly, scares me even more.
Living a life where I‘m constantly tired and depressed isn’t what I imagined as a kid who’d dream of doing something special with his words.
The truth is, I’m not sure where writing will take me.
But I do know that typing this out has made me feel the most alive I have in weeks.
I know it sounds like some kind of a pyramid scheme, but it turns out, doing things that make you happy actually makes you happy.
I tasted a life where I stopped listening to my heart, and it sucked.
But like the 2nd bite of a fourth Pizza Pop, I’ve had enough to know I don’t want any more of it.
Listening to your heart makes you feel alive.
And in a world filled with these zombies who’ve turned that part of themselves off, only your choices will keep you from ending up like them.
Choosing my heart’s given me happiness, and I trust it’ll do the same for you.
I hope you do.