I have written quite a bit about following our hearts, coming to know core Self, and living with purpose and vision. Yesterday, Memorial Day, made me think about the relationship of Self to something like war. This aspect of individual lives and our responses in relation to societal and governmental issues presents some real challenges for me.
I deeply respect those men and women who make the decision to enlist in the armed forces, who choose to work to defend the United States and preserve our republican democracy, which in and of itself is a messy form of government in terms of administration but the only form I know that ensures the greatest degree of freedom to the individual, including minorities, who theoretically are protected under such governance. Our military vows to protect our government and freedom, and those who step in to do that work are worthy of respect. I don’t question that.
I do, however, question what they are not allowed to question: How necessary is war? What sort of conniving duplicity goes on that creates things like war policy or decisions to engage in conflict? This presents a conflict for me, personally, because I am indebted to and proud of those who serve, but I do not trust those making the decisions. Trusting ego-driven, power-mongering bureaucracies has been a long been a problem for me, and one of my former students reminded me of that this morning in a FaceBook comment to me.
He mentioned how passionate I was about students developing into the amazing human beings they are, but he also said he remembered those times when he could see the frustration because of the organization of education, which takes on its own persona, trying to rob students of individuality. So, how do I respond to bureaucracies that take on a persona that is engineered by a relatively select few?
Whenever destruction results from such power groups — government representatives (national, state, or local), departments of education (same levels), administrators of such groups — as I said, whenever destruction results whether of human life as a direct course of action or human spirit, then I know that those power players are working through ego.
Sometimes, as with the armed forces, a government response must be mounted against ego-driven and -initiated aggression destroying human life — like a Hitler, for example. But those times, to me, would be rare. Unfortunately, it is also rare that government response is heart-driven and sincere and not some nationalistic, ego-response bullshit that exponentially multiplies destruction rather than mitigates it.
My former student encouraged me because he recognizes that my response to idiotic education policy was commitment to my students. And maybe that is what I’m looking for in terms of resolving conflicts of individual hearts versus government and society in general: a commitment to love others enough to allow my heart to function and to live Self in relationship to others, to express my life purpose as fully as possible to create love and unity. This doesn’t seem to work at a governmental level, otherwise no wars, no strict national boundaries, no massive crime waves.
Once again, I have come to a point at which I planned on going into fiction dialog in pre-novel form (kind of funny that no one has questioned what that means), but I am too far into this to begin that tonight. Tomorrow, though, I will, and maybe some fictional dialog will help produce deeper thoughts about this.
Until then, what is your heart saying to you? What is your life purpose in expressing core Self as you listen to your heart? Are you fulfilled? Significant? Happy? If most of us were, we would experience much less death and destruction in our nation, in our world, because there would be a lot less ego-driven bureaucrats.
Yesterday, I addressed the option of walking away from miserable life situations when the choices of changing or accepting the situation had been equally evaluated. Before going on to the dialog of Eric, one of the protagonists and lawyers in my novel The Fellowship of the Heart, I want to share one more bit of experience.
Just because we hear our hearts and choose to make self known does not mean that all is smooth sailing. In fact, we shouldn’t even choose the heart as the central processing unit if we only want smooth sailing. The ego will work a lot better for that.
Anytime we are faced with a decision and choose the heart, we desire to make that wonderful, unique, infinitely valuable core Self known. Whether we choose to accept, change, or walk away from a challenge under the auspices of the heart, we can expect change that will lead to growth and blessing, but we can’t expect smooth sailing. We can, however, expect to create our vision and to live our purpose.
In The Fellowship of the Heart, Eric Lafarnge comes to the point of awakening to self, to hearing his own heart. However, pre-novel, the following event was one step in his evolution and brought him closer to that point.
Eric’s bosses, Jack Actov and Peter Colboard, watched Eric from their plush conference room. The richly glowing satiny sheen from the walnut paneling seemed to reflect Jack Actov’s self-confidence. Even though he knew that Eric was at one of those crossroads of life, he did not doubt his scheme would hook Eric into their designs of power to control the politics of Missouri, maybe even the nation.
Viewing him through their Holocom connections linked to a private satellite, Actov’s smug smile mirrored the glow of the paneling and the fragrance of their expensive scotch. They watched Eric cross the street and walk into the spacious city park.
Jack: I told you. Lafarnge has been doing this for the better part of a month.
Peter: He has always been so dedicated. Now, he’s leaving for an hour at a time — no clients, no business Holocom on. We are going to lose him, and we need his expertise for this Cadeyrn fellow. That guy is becoming a pest.
Jack: Yes, and a very smart, persistent pest, which does mean that we need Eric.
Peter: Well, why are you smiling? What are you thinking, Jack?
Jack: Peter, you would see it, too, if I just shut up for a few minutes, but I want the credit.
They both laughed.
Peter: Okay, Jack, the credit is yours. Reasoning, please.
Jack: How many times have we seen guys his age go through this crisis of conscience? Am I really accomplishing anything? Does my life matter? No firm convictions about the power that could be theirs. But we need Eric, and in terms of legal acumen, he is better than anyone at this firm in dealing with governmental regulations. Let’s just give him what he wants, and he will have his soul-searching answers.
Peter: Brilliant! His personal unrest puts him right where we want him.
Eric walked with purpose directly to a bench that he had obviously visited before; he plopped down on a bench hugged by lilac bushes and leaned forward, elbows on his knees.
Eric: Nothing’s changed for a month. I keep thinking the same things: The promise of a partnership dangled over my head; Anne is getting the senior associate position; She is so frustrated with me and I don’t know why; I’m frustrated with more than work and I don’t know why. Is this what I’m supposed to be doing with my life?
Eric leaned back and closed his eyes.
Eric: What am I thinking? How could I possibly walk away from this prestige AND money? I’m just anxious. I just need to make it to the weekend, don’t I? Damn, what good will the weekend do?
Stranger (now seated at the other end of the bench): What good will the weekend do?
Eric: Who are you, and when did you sit down there?
Stranger: I was just passing by and tired. It’s warm today, isn’t it?
Eric: Yes, it is, but…
Stranger: So I sat down and heard your question and just couldn’t help but let you know I was here.
Eric: Thank you. I’m sorry you heard that.
Stranger: I’m not. I’m pretty sure that I was supposed to hear exactly that. So let me ask you again, what good will the weekend do?
Eric: I don’t know. I’m thinking about leaving my job. I feel like I’m just filling time and space for no reason — none at all.
Stranger: From what I heard, it must be an impressive position: “prestige and money.”
Eric: Yes, but what good is that if you’re as miserable as I am on the inside?
Stranger: That sounds like a better question than the weekend one. What does the weekend have to do with internal misery?
Eric: I don’t know you, and you don’t know me, and since I have never seen you here before, I will probably not see you again. So, I will answer you. I will be able to forget all of this over the weekend, and I think that if my firm does not offer me the position that I have wanted, I will leave.
Stranger: So, let me get this straight. You are leaving the resolution of your internal misery in the hands of someone else, of someone else’s decision to give you something you want and they have to do it by this weekend. Is that right?
Eric: Well, not exactly, but sort of.
Stranger: You don’t sound very sure about that.
Eric: I’m a lawyer and I have been teased with a partnership in the firm. I could easily go to another firm, but I have built a clientele and reputation where I am. I would never have the recognition or pay elsewhere.
Stranger: How do you know that?
Eric: Well, I ultimately don’t. It’s just the odds, I guess.
Stranger: So, I ask again, what good will the weekend do if the only thing is that you hope by next week someone else will relieve your internal strife? Isn’t that like taking a shooting star as a sign to marry someone — superstition?
Eric: No, not really. I don’t know.
Stranger: Now that sounds honest: you don’t know. What can you do to find out?
Eric smiled at what he perceived to be the old stranger’s naïveté. He briefly closed his eyes, composing a thoughtful response. When he opened them two seconds later, the stranger was gone, only the echo of the final words were in Eric’s mind: “What can you do to find out?”
Eric: I need to make the decision, not Actov and Colboard. I know right now that I will have to leave at some point, and I will choose when. But there is more than that. What can I do to find out?
Have you ever reached some point in your life, a point at which nothing seems right, where you feel that everything is unsettled, disoriented, and out of sync? I have on various occasions. When we continue on in those sort of circumstances, it hurts the mind, drains the body, and agonizes the soul — not a good position to be in. Sometimes we just go through the motions and look forward to the time where we won’t be in the distressing situation;we find ourselves not enjoying the present but rather incessantly looking forward to the weekend, summer, vacation, bar, or chocolate.
What courses of action are available in such a situation? Many, very many, but sometimes I have been in such distress of soul that the only action available to me personally, the only one that allowed me to keep my sanity, was to walk away. Eckhardt Tolle’s famous quote about three choices that are available is that you can change things, accept things, or leave them. Sometimes, I have just had to leave.
However, when those times came, I know that I evaluated the other two options — changing and accepting — and I did not consider that they were possibilities for me. Every one of us is unique in the ways we think. The choice of the source for processing the thoughts of the mind — ego or heart — is the one thing we definitely share, but what happens once either of those modes is engaged creates a you unlike anyone else.
Honestly, I doubt that I have always chosen heart, and I know that even if I listen to my heart that ego can always be trying to poke its nose in, which is why I talk about the choice of heart being the choice of a primary filter, primary source.
I mention this because I never made a choice to engage in what would become a liminal journey without an essential, absolutely essential, element: faith. I knew that in the depths of my mind and heart that I was brooding over some spirit, ideas, plans, and possibilities that were incubating in my brain; however, conditions were just not warm enough for them to hatch. Walking away provided the necessary heat. I KNEW that I would create something, make something happen. I believed in myself and had faith that if I moved, everything else would move.
At those times where I knew that I had tried to re-energize, to get re-enthused, and re-invigorated and neither acceptance nor change was possible, the heat needed to hatch some new part of my life was produced by walking away. Faith in self and Spirit, some sort of ideas incubating, and walking away created new growth and added new dimensions to my life.
This process of choice concerning larger life decisions calls for an intensely personal evaluation. While counsel can be extremely beneficial, too many of us want some external force or dynamic to make the decision for us — at least that’s what is really going on. Whenever that happens, I am pretty sure it’s ego, because ego focuses on how we look in the setting of our world.
If I may, I encourage you to garner whatever is available to you when you find yourself miserable, thinking of some vague future when you can be free, frustrated because you can’t change things or because in your soul you can’t accept it. From the moment that you start gathering your ideas and pursuing a course of action, choose to use your heart and ask the questions and listen, listen, listen to your heart and the soul and spirit of life as filtered through your heart. Who am I as core Self? How can I, in this situation, best express that core Self, my heart? How can I experience that life now that I dream of when in I’m in the throes of my misery? How clear is the life I want in my mind? What is it? Start listing and mapping it out, as vague as it may be or as detailed as it may be.
We could continue, but I hope that these examples of questions and consideration are significant to you. I had intended to do some more character background and dialog tonight from my novel, but I will do that tomorrow, illustrating these things in fiction form.
We all face decisions every day, but some loom larger than others. How do we navigate the process?
We begin with making a choice to use ego or heart as the spark for thought and the filter through which we deliberate in our minds. Sort of. Ego is the default choice. The heart needs to be sought. Really big decisions indicate that choices need to be made that will initiate a liminal journey. When faced with big life decisions, ego will almost always choose comfort zones and the status quo, which equate to stagnation.
A liminal journey produces change and leads us forward into growth. Now, a liminal journey can be heart or ego driven, but it always brings about new vistas. If the heart has been the spark, filter, and advisor, then positive, fulfilling, significant growth will occur. If ego even urges the journey — which it often won’t — the change will most likely create confusion and a gnawing, empty drive to find something else to move on to — no fulfillment.
Whether ego or heart informs the change, liminality brings us to a threshold, one on which we stand and decide to move across into new experience or to retreat into the same old same old. Moving forward means that there will be a time, sometimes a considerable time, before the transformation into a new level is known, an aggregation of the whole person into a new framework of life. This process simply describes progression of life growth; it is not a prescription for how to live.
However, change threatens the powers that be, and in the minds of those who have willingly shut out the voice of their hearts, change will usually present a threat — unless they have originated it, manufactured it. Such is the case in my novel The Fellowship of the Heart as traced in the lives of a number of characters.
Two in particular, Kathryn Frank and Edward Sampson, are engineers at Paragon Structural Engineers where Paul Egan, Stan Boyle, and Anne Lafarnge work. (I hope if you read this that you are becoming acquainted with these people). Kathryn and Edward are both on the verge of turning 30, and they are faced with embarking on a liminal adventure of their own. Anne Lafarnge has begun her own journey of hearing the voice of her heart and reinvesting herself in her job and new position as senior associate. Will they accept the offer from Anne to work as part of the team on the Riverview Canyon Bridge project?
Edward: What do you think, Kathy? Does Anne seem like someone we would want to work closely with for a year or more?
Kathryn: I’m not 100% sure. Didn’t she choose not to use us on the Convention Center? Why did Paragon even hire us? We have been in this together for the last six years. We were hired the same day, and neither of us has done more than just basic grunt work. What do you think, Edward? Do you think that anyone here really cares about developing and encouraging young engineers? Do we have to get pushy like Stan Boyle? Do we have to make a splash, make waves, make people notice us?
Edward: Whoa, Kathy! I love your questions, and they always make me smile. I hope you’re okay with that because your sincerity just lights up my day. And short answer to your questions is I think that people here like Paul Egan and Stan Boyle don’t even know who we are, really.
Kathryn: Then should we leave or just take whatever they offer us? I mean, do we really have a choice? If we are offered something like this and we don’t take it, are we considered dime a dozen engineers who can be easily replaced with new graduates?
Edward: You know, Kathy, that might be true, but the fact is that we have been offered to be work as team members on a significant project. And don’t forget that Ms. Lafarnge called us in specifically, reviewed our history, and then — after she thought about it for a few days and talked to a number of others — chose us.
Kathryn: But does that mean we will be able to move on to our own projects to manage?
Edward: I’m not sure, but I do think that Ms. Lafarnge is making such a future possible. After all, she is the first woman ever in this firm or this region to be named as a senior associate engineer. Don’t you think that is significant?
Kathryn: Yes, it is, and Anne did take a personal, pointed interest in our work history. Did she ask you anything about your passion or life purpose or anything like that?
Edward: Yeah, she did. I got the feeling that it really matters to her if we want to be here, if we care about engineering.
Kathryn: I think she does. It’s definitely a breath of fresh air. Quite honestly, I was ready to leave. I don’t want to end up like Stan Boyle. Tell me, Edward. Do you feel like this is your purpose in life?
Edward: You know, Kathy, I am not totally sure, but there’s just something telling me that I need to be here right now and that Ms. Lafarnge is sincere. I’m taking the offer.
Kathryn: I feel like Anne, personally, is my reason to stay, and based on her spirit I’m going to take the offer, too. I think that we will learn a lot working for someone so motivated. I’m ready to move forward.
In my novel The Fellowship of the Heart, Anne Lafarnge is a structural engineer who has advanced rapidly, especially as a woman in a still male-dominated profession. In the 2030’s of the novel, many women would be in the profession but not in power positions. Anne is on the verge of being offered such a place, but it is before she has come to an understanding of her own heart. The episode does not come without a challenge and conflict.
That conflict comes in the form of one of the ego-driven antagonists at odds with another. The only difference is that Stan Boyle is lobbying to be the next partner in Paragon Structural Engineers. Paul Egan, one of the founding partners, has other plans. Both have deafened their ears to their own hearts.
Before I give you their exchange here, I would point out that those driven by ego not only will be in conflict with their own hearts and the Spirit of the Universe, but also with others who operate by the same principles. It is a struggle for control by master manipulators who are self-deceived, and they are good at it because their emotional well-being depends on it: they need to win to be important, which momentarily fills their soul’s emptiness. Conflict between such people can be very destructive, because they are so self-absorbed it matters not who or how many are hurt in the process.
Contrast that to those who hear their own hearts and connect to the positive spiritual flow of the Universe — no deception, no pandering, no sacrificing self or others on the altar of fame power, wealth, or importance — and they are significant and fulfilled.
With that, here is the ego to ego conversation of Stan Boyle and Paul Egan.
Paul: Stan, I know what you have to offer, but bigger forces are in play here.
Stan: Bigger than the profits I can produce by “overseeing” accounts on major projects. Not all those regulations are required, you know.
Paul: Be careful. Neither are you.
Stan: Is that a threat, Paul? I have helped you develop not only an extremely profitable engineering business but also an influential political force. Do you have any idea…
Paul: Yes, Stan, I do. You have made it abundantly clear to me and the other partners here. You earned your CPA for us; you have a law degree, and both in addition to your engineering degree. Since you have decided that you have the right to be so blunt, let me return the favor. You are a mediocre engineer, at best, which disqualifies you from this partnership position. And yes, you helped make some connections with Governor Etts and his supporters, including the manufacturers and labor unions. Somewhat impressive and not unrecognized by us.
Stan: But not enough to be rewarded, right?
Paul: Will you just simmer down? We have the plans for you that will lead to more important roles than this.
Stan: Like what? You said it yourself, I’m not that great of an engineer, so what would you do? Make me lead on the new Canyon River Bridge Project? Whoop!
Paul: You can be a real ass, Stan. Please shut up and listen to me.
Stan: Okay, fine, Paul. What am I listening to?
Paul: Bad news first, but keep your mouth shut till I’m finished.
Stan knew that he was on the verge of taking too much liberty with a very powerful man. Paul slapped the sole of his Verragamo down hard as he took a step towards Stan, his finger pointed straight at Stan’s face. At this distance, the fragrance of Clive Christian No. 1 was easily detected. Stan’s shoulders sagged ever so slightly.
Paul saw it, even though Stan himself didn’t realize it.
Paul: Okay, Stan. We are offering the position to Anne Lafarnge. Wait! Not a word! We want no attention drawn to the firm, no accusations of sexism. She has proven that she is an excellent engineer. But she also has proven that she knows how to pick the right man. Her husband..,
Stan: Yeah, I know him from several parties — Eric. He’s a big shot lawyer.
Paul: Well, he’s about to be a lot bigger shot. You know our associates in our little consortium, Actov and Colboard, are Eric’s bosses. They are going to offer him a partnership. Stan, you have lobbied enough and done enough dirty work for us that you know we are always ten steps ahead.
Stan: Why do you think I am pushing so hard for this?
Paul: I know. I understand, and your work is valued by our little group. This is what we have planned for you, my friend. We are supporting Governor Etts’ re-election, and he will win. But before his second term is up, he will be his party’s next candidate for president of the United States. We don’t care about the party; we only care that he is deeply indebted to us.
Stan: Where do I play in all of this?
Paul: We have Eric Lafarnge slated for the next governor of Missouri. We want Anne to represent our equal-rights-for-all stance. We are not 100% sure of her response, but we need you to keep tabs on her and her team as she takes on the Canyon River Bridge Project.
Stan: She’s getting the bridge, too!
Paul: You have no idea what is ahead. Well, hopefully some idea. Your accounting acumen will be your ticket to Anne’s team. It’s your legal background, though, that will put you on the Lafarnge team after you help Anne to be successful on this project. You will be at the highest level of state government. How does that sound?
Stan: Like I’m on Anne’s team.
Questions to consider:
How many times have you asked yourself or simply thought about the following questions?
Who am I, really?
What is my truth?
How do my actions reveal what I really feel and believe?
What would I do with my life if I could do anything?
What is my passion?
Why am I here?
How can I discover answers to any of these questions?
If you have considered any of these questions, I hope that my experiences and writing will give you some guidance. Please read my blog and comment and share your thoughts. I would love to hear from you!