Today’s Mark Nepo (from The Book of Awakenings) writing shared a story of a rich man who had an opportunity to follow Jesus and work with Jesus in healing and teaching others but the rich man had too many things to do before he could actually do what his heart desired – and his heart desired to follow Jesus. Mark Nepo asked us to question whether we would “drop everything and come now?”
In essence, I interpreted this story about the rich man unable to follow his heart’s desire to mean that once we get a glimpse of the path that we can follow to make meaning of our lives, do we act on it? Would we have the courage to make the changes in our lives to move toward the path that brings our whole being the most fulfillment, the most joy, the most love and light? Or would we do, as the individual in his story do? Would we make excuses of what we need to take care of first before moving toward our life’s purpose? Would we tend to something else that seems to be a responsibility before moving on our path?
This was a convicting morning reflection for me to read. When at first I read the story, I though that the rich man was being responsible, he was taking care of the things that he needed to take care of before he followed his heart’s desire. Well, if the rich man in the story was my father or my husband, I would appreciate it very much if he took care of his affairs before following his heart’s desires. But then it occurred to me what is not to say that his affairs would not have been taken care of had he followed his heart’s desires? Would I really prefer to be with an unhappy father or husband whose heart remained restless because he never followed the path that he was intended to follow to experience meaning in his life?
And then I thought about what the story had to tell me? I tend to see very clearly that which brings me joy, that which brings me meaning and yet I tend to get caught up in what others’ feel is my responsibility – what others’ feel I need to be doing instead. It is as if I trust others’ read of what I am to be doing more than I trust my own interpretation of what I am to be doing? I value being responsible but I think my interpretation of responsibility is based on others’ expectations for how to meet my responsibilities rather than the truth and authentic expression of who I am on this path that allows me to practice my heart’s desire, the expression of my authentic self that brings me the most joy, love, light, and laughter.
After reading that reflection, I wrote some reflection questions in my journal.
What is keeping me from acting upon and within my heart’s desire right now? Is it an expectation that another has of me to do something else first? Do I feel I need to run an errand, grade a paper, or write an article before I take the time to just simply reflect the light that someone else is reflecting to me back to them? Do I find ways to “stay busy” so that I avoid the joy of expressing my life’s purpose? And why would I do that? Do I feel guilty because expressing my life’s purpose brings me so much joy? How crazy is that?
The list of questions went on and on. And after I laid my pen aside, I looked at my journal and then back to the story that Mark Nepo wrote and I realized that I was no different from the rich man in the story. My excuses were just as socially acceptable as his. And I laughed aloud realizing that it was only I keeping myself from expressing my life’s purpose in every moment of every day. Every time I listen to another’s expectation of what I should be doing instead of what I feel and know I should be being or doing is every time I fall out of my joy and bliss…
Well, that is easily fixable.
Marilee J. Bresciani, Ph.D., is a professor of higher education and the Founder of Rushing to Yoga Foundation. Her now more than 24 years of professional work has been committed to changing the way that America talks about quality of higher education. In order to keep from going crazy about trying to get the American public to care about what students are actually learning and how they are developing, rather than other indicators that have nothing to do with that, she has engaged in yoga, meditation, and self-referral. Marilee’s mantra is “I teach what I need to learn.”