The present

Last January I was in the middle of an African village. A child hid behind his mom, freaked out from never having seen a non African before (let alone, uh, Asian). Another child fell asleep on my shoulders as I swayed with the music of the great Zion church on the side of a dirt road. I was searching for myself in the middle of the strangest land and found solace in the most unconventional encounters. 

Last January I made a decision to let go of all that was comfortable, all that was easy, all that was known, to embark on a new journey that would be led purely by my heart. Prior to Africa I led my life in a very goal-oriented fashion with almost military precision. It got me far. Whatever ambition I had I achieved. But with anything in life that is planned to the T, one loses the element of surprise, that unexpected discovery that expands the mind. If I were to do a 180 and run eyes wide shut in the opposite direction with only the heart leading, I wonder where it would take me. Good or bad, I'd be surprised. I'd learn and grow from it. This journey would be one I take alone. I was excited.

365 days later ...

I switched my career with great ambivalence.
I existed in the state of ambiguity - a limbo between "is" and "isn't".
I discovered pain, jealousy, irrationality, obsession, and occasionally fleeting happiness.
I began to doubt my ability to make the right decisions.
I became aware of how the connection between the past and the present drives the future.
I felt restless, yet tired, all the time.   
Two marathons, crossfit, yoga, and a full season of snowboarding with improved park skills did not make me feel accomplished.
A national apple ad, a breakthrough onto the mobile development platform, and 7 project launches in 12 months did not make me feel accomplished.

Everyone and everything was uncomfortable, difficult, unknown. I found myself lost at home not knowing whether I succeeded or failed. I ended up in therapy. 

Lesson learned: the heart is irrational. Pure as it may be, it cannot make the right decision on its own. It can make A decision - usually one driven largely by passion, desires, fundamental romanticisms ingrained by means of childhood Disney consumption and hollywood rom-com. It usually is aware only of the present. It cannot weight the experiences of the past nor can it project the outcome of the future. The heart is delicate, vulnerable, irresponsible, and requires protection. The heart on its own can never make the smart choice. The smart choice is, in the end, always the right choice.

Solace doesn't come from a heart-driven lifestyle. It comes from being content with the connection you have with another human being in an unconditional way. It comes from giving without wanting. Theoretically simple but very hard to execute.

On a plane going somewhere sometime ago I saw the movie 500 days of Summer. Cute foreshadow. Project 500 days of specialK has about 2 more months to go before reaching the same ironic, predictable, yet sweet ending. By then the brain will have recovered from its slumber. 

In true TED fanatic form, I leave you with a best of the web video of JK Rowling giving a commencement address to the Harvard University kids on the fringe benefit of failure.

"What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality."
"As is a tale, so is life. It is not how long it is, but how good it is, that matters."

Thaniya KeereepartComment