Changing Course

6:10am.  I silence the alarm.  Don soft wool socks, thick slippers, and grey flannel robe to mimic the warmth of the bed until my body adjusts to being upright.  I fill the tea kettle, locate the heavy blue cup, rip open the tea bag and notice the tiny print.  A message that my soul needs to hear, but my brain isn’t ready to process.

“Experience will give you wisdom,” the little scrap of paper proclaims.

And even though I am barely awake, I understand the depth of this statement.  I can feel my heart open to these words, so I free the tag from the thread, pull a piece of tape from the black dispenser and secure the note to my journal.  A blank page waiting for these notes of insight.  Holding them until my head catches up to my heart, the exact pattern that has brought me to this place.  An exhausting circuitous journey of my own creation. 

The never-ending battle between my heart that longs to stretch and grow and the voices in my head that can’t help but keep me small and safe.  Practicality and responsibility are the head’s rally cry, ensuring that all goes according to plan.  This has been the modus operandi for years, but I am sensing a change in the winds.  This 42 year-old heart is fed up with the usual protocol and is doing everything in it’s power to shake me awake.

Hesitancy, overthinking, and a sense of responsibility took root and bloomed early in me.  Praised for being the kind of kid that would make any teacher’s job a breeze, I quickly realized that taking risks, speaking out, or following my instincts wouldn’t have a place in the equation of success I was creating.  I drew a thick blanket over all of those yearnings, those hidden desires to jump in with both feet or dance with the wind.  My muffled dreams barely heard as my head, with all of it’s practicality and planning, learned how to navigate with ease. 

Learning would be the ticket.  I could “do” learning.  I would become masterful at gathering knowledge.  It would become my default.  My go-to.  My security and my greatest crutch.

Anytime my heart would long for experience and adventure, I’d notice the urge, but offer a distraction instead.  Trying to appease the whispers of my heart, I’d start by learning about the subject.  Telling myself I was being courageous as I dove into a new author, new hobby or even as I started a new career.  Documenting the nuggets of information that seemed so relevant to growth in my journals.  I created an anthology of quotes, reflections, and struggles that have become carbon copies of each other.

Each journal a record of the heart’s repeated attempts to create a stir.  Quotes all offering different versions of the tea bag’s advice.  Mark Nepo’s nudge to stop standing on the sidelines, urging me to step in and become a song to be sung.  Brene’s advice to dare greatly and enter the arena.  The same theme over and over. 

I have been assured that I’m not stuck in the same circle, that this is not an endless loop rather a circular path that is spiraling upward and I am surely learning more with each go around.  Even if this is the case, I’m fed up.  Tired of trying so hard to learn it all.  Sick of the cycle of my own creation and it’s repeated outcome.  Because this heart isn’t satisfied with the novelty of new information and keeps asking for less thought and more action.  The security blanket is feeling old and scratchy.  My heart has been continuing to tug at the corners, pushing to be uncovered. 

The cries are getting louder,  “Listen to me!  You have got to get out there!  Get your hands dirty! Try things on!  Experience is the teacher.

My heart longs to read fiction with abandon, to take day trips with no agenda, to strike up a conversation with a stranger, and to throw paint on a canvas in thick, bold strokes.  “Stop trying so hard to learn about your life and step into your life,” it calls.  Let’s get messy, dig in, and find out what happens when you go with your gut.  It asks to gather wisdom from the waving grasses, the meandering streams and the canopy of trees on long walks in quiet spaces.

I have made my heart wait patiently for the voices of the head to tire, become exhausted from their relentless pursuit to soak up knowledge in traditional ways.  And now the steaming cup of tea is ready and my journal is patiently waiting.  I shuffle through the quiet house to my corner chair, wrap myself in the comfort of a soft wool blanket, and reread the invitation to chart a new course.