Let my heart be my guide

Anything is one of a million paths. Therefore you must always keep in mind that a path is only a path; if you feel you should not follow it, you must not stay with it under any conditions. To have such clarity you must lead a disciplined life. Only then will you know that any path is only a path and there is no affront, to oneself or to others, in dropping it if that is what your heart tells you to do. But your decision to keep on the path or to leave it must be free of fear or ambition. I warn you. Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary. This question is one that only a very old man asks. Does this path have a heart? All paths are the same: they lead nowhere. They are paths going through the bush, or into the bush. In my own life I could say I have traversed long long paths, but I am not anywhere. Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn’t, it is of no use. Both paths lead nowhere; but one has a heart, the other doesn’t. One makes for a joyful journey; as long as you follow it, you are one with it. The other will make you curse your life. One makes you strong; the other weakens you. Before you embark on any path ask the question: Does this path have a heart? If the answer is no, you will know it, and then you must choose another path. The trouble is nobody asks the question; and when a man finally realizes that he has taken a path without a heart, the path is ready to kill him. At that point very few men can stop to deliberate, and leave the path. A path without a heart is never enjoyable. You have to work hard even to take it. On the other hand, a path with heart is easy; it does not make you work at liking it.

Carlos Castaneda, The Teachings of Don Juan

I read this passage often. To remind me to let my heart be my guide. To be with good people, to pursue good causes, to see the positive and to share the joy and wonder of this moment. To feel my heart and the hearts of others. We have to evaluate the path we are on. To not get stuck in the comfort and familiarity of it. To not be blinded and numbed by the routine of it. To not be overwhelmed by the chaos and the uncertainty of it. To insure that the path is feeding us as much as we are tending to it. Not just talking about your job, but about the way you are spending your time, your attention, your love, and your talent. As an “old man”, I have met so many people who have given up or lost their way. The light in their eyes flickers. The fire in their bellies has been reduced to ash. They have often mistaken money for meaning, activity for ambition and self-interest as interest in self.. They either have too much money or not enough. They just want more. Wake up. Don’t settle. Don’t procrastinate. Don’t give up. It’s never too late. Don’t wait for a “good time” or worse, when you will have more time. Don’t hope you will be better prepared or just feel better. Start following your heart now, and the path will appear.  

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