There seems to be two distinct voices in me that I have become aware of. I refer to the voices as something to be aware of and to myself as that which is aware and noticing the voices. The voices, as far as I can tell, belong one to my head and the other to my heart. Without going too far into detail about the biomechanisms that influence all decisions in the human body which include stomach tract, DNA traits, brain chemistry, bacterial ecosystems as well as heart and soul, I will relate the decision making process in this letter only by referring to the heart and mind and/or brain.
It is, evidently, the heart and mind that seem to speak most loudly. It is perhaps in these two organs that all other decision processes flow through for consideration before being made aware to me, the observer.
If a thought passes through my awareness it is just that, a thought, and I am the one who notices the thought. I can make the decision influenced by the thought or otherwise make no decision at all. It is not me that is the thought any less than it is not me that is the hand or the body. It is my hand, my body and my thoughts but they are not me. I am the noticer. I am the observer. I am consciousness.
I will not go into this idea with much detail in this post. I assume I will frequently come back to this idea and speak more to it at a later date. For now we must be satisfied that there is “I” the observer who is consciousness and that there are thoughts and feelings that pass through this awareness. The thoughts pass through consciousness and I observe them. I can feel them, I can hear them, and, I can command action to them.
Some thoughts go away easily if ignored. While other thoughts become louder and louder. They knock in many ways. Some seem to never go away at all.
To compare thoughts of the heart to thoughts of the brain I will relate ideas that can be described as dreams, aspirations and passion as voices of the heart. Things such as comfort, safety and logical reasoning will be attributed as voices of the brain.
These two centers, the heart and brain, in my case, seem to constantly be at odds with one another. At the very best this can be described with a scenario such as my heart will want to run a marathon, or chase after a girl for love. My brain will hear of this and subsequently want to talk me out of it. My heart will want to do things without question as it acts on passion. My brain will filter every decision through logic, judgment, and safety. These two manufacturers of ideas work in tandem. They complement each other. I am grateful for this. It is a good system and when they are satisfied I feel happy. When the balance is off, especially for the heart, things can become quite chaotic. They can become dangerous.
A few years ago I was living what can be considered a very normal and successful life. I made a good wage and I owned a home. I was healthy. I began to feel mundane and bored. My heart wanted something different. It wanted to sing and dance and make art. It wanted to be foolish and experience a completely different life. It had a long list of demands.
In those days I had been practicing how to open communication with my heart. I will soon write about this process in detail. For now understand that I simply began listening to my heart. I gave it space to speak and it became very noisy.
My heart had a long list of of complicated demands:
Sell your home
Quit your job
Travel the world
Learn as much as you can
Follow your dreams
At times my brain was obliged to help. Together my heart and brain worked patiently with each other to form plans and execute them. Oh the lists I made and completed!
It took years of preparation to get to where I am now. Free, as some would call it, travelling the world with no debt and no liabilities.
I have seen wonderous things since then. I have made countless friends and connections. I have indeed wept at the marvels of life that have been expressed to me on this journey that my heart so desperately yearned for.
It has not been without its price or sacrifice.
There have been storms of mental proportions. I have doubted myself. I have mentally tortured myself. I have been lonely. I often feel that I have given up my future prospects of a comfortable life for the frivolous and meaningless now. I have lost love. I had begun to drink again.
For every great pillar of majestic beauty and overwhelming beauty of satisfaction there seems to be an equally great moment of fear, abandon, and, despair. This is the journey my heart wanted. Not just the good but the bad as well. To feel both ends of the spectrum even if I and my brain curse my decision for days or weeks on end.
“This is what you planned for.”, A good friend said to me on one of my darkest days.
So there you have it. A quick description of how and why I currently find myself where I do; writing this message on a rickety marble table in the attic of a farmhouse in France. I have been living these past few weeks with an amazing couple in Auvergne province of France known for its cows and dairy products. I have even learned a bit about cattle ranching myself and was even called a “cowboy” the other day. More on that later. For now… a decision.
As discussed above the heart will be the birthplace of desires, passions, and seemingly insane thoughts of action. After this takes place the mind and brain with logic will try and repel these ideas and try to break them down. Sometimes it will succeed and at other times the heart will simply become louder and louder. The heart speaks many languages and can make it’s desire known in many ways. It is I who notices all this and must deal with the opposing paths of each action.
Recently I borrowed a bicycle of the farmhouse I am staying at. While riding it I became very happy. “What a great way to explore!” thought my brain. My heart jumped in and said “Why don't you travel the world on a bicycle!”.
This thought of bicycle travel immediately brightened me up with happiness and laughter. In fact I began to laugh out loud while riding the bike.
I questioned my soul and asked, “Is this something you really want to do?” and the resounding answer was “Yes.” and my heart said,
“I am capable of doing anything! And so are you!”
It has only been a few days since coming to this quick conclusion. My brain has come up with many logical reasons why I should not do this.
“Do you have any experience with long distance cycling?”
“Are you prepared at all for the coming winter?”
“Have you trained - at all?”
“Do you know where you will sleep?”
“Do you know the way?”
Not only does there seem to be countless logical reasons not do this journey there has also been quite a few real life road blocks already. I don't speak French for one. Visiting local bike shops and trying to explain my plan and shop for a proper bicycle has proven disastrous.
Even though I have a native French speaking translator with me all hope is lost because of both of our complete lack of of knowledge when it comes to cyclist jargon.
I had a pretty decent idea of the bicycle setup I wanted thanks to advice from my friend Brian Allen. This setup was impossible to communicate to the all French speaking bike shop staff. I decided to shop online which proved nearly as challenging.
Translating the French online bike department stores with google translate caused the webpages to become inoperable and non responsive. I searched for the bike and components piece by piece and had to translate every part separately with a separate page.
Because of this process I was forced to accept an inferior bike than I believe I require for my planned journey. Not only was I constricted by language I was also heavily constricted by time. I do not get a test drive. I have no certainty of quality and no expert opinions available. Every decision was operating purely on faith and gut intuition. I was frustrated and becoming disillusioned. I began to consider scrapping the plan.
After my research and purchase plans proved to be very difficult I decided to make the easiest purchase rather than the most informed. This will undoubtedly haunt me later.
I filled my cart online and thought carefully. “Is this really what I want?” my heart spoke up and said “Yes, click buy!” so I did and my card was declined.
The computer I am working on is tremendously slow. It is so slow that when you open a folder from the desktop you are liable to wait a few minutes before it opens. Online shopping is a nightmare with this computer and also the store is in a foreign language. It took nearly forty five minutes to fill the cart and proceed to checkout. I thought maybe I entered something incorrectly. I filled the cart again and was again declined. I tried again. Declined. Hours went by on the clock.
I thought about giving up. I had tried multiple cards and nothing was working. I could not make the purchase. I was stone walled. Perhaps this was a sign that I was trying to do too much in too little time. I felt I had tried everything I could. I simply could not make the purchase.
I began to make new plans. I started looking at flights out of France. I did not know where I wanted to go. My soul weakened. I was sweating. I had no idea what to do or where to go or why. I began to wonder why I should travel at all. I thought about going home. But why go home? To do what? I began to question all meaning. I became depressed.
“No.”. I said. (and so did my heart)
“I will not give up.” “This is my dream and if I give up it will haunt me. It will become a nightmare.”
I called my credit card company. They said they saw no error on their end and suggested it was probably an error with the store and that there was nothing they could do. I tried other methods of payment. I tried paypal but could not verify because I do not own a valid phone number. I felt defeated again. I was laying in my bed cursing myself and thinking what a fool I am to even be here at all in the first place. And then a phone call.
It was an automatic fraud detection service on one of the credit cards I had tried with. I confirmed the transaction attempts. After this phone call I built my shopping cart again for the seventh time and processed the transaction. This time it worked. My order was confirmed.
I expect my bicycle to arrive early next week and hope to be on the road by mid week.
My heart is very happy. My brain is working hard to sort out all the details. I am noticing a good feeling overall.
The purpose of the long intro and middle section of this letter is to illustrate the different state of being I feel myself in with regards to whether or not I am aligned with my hearts purpose. I am not completely sure what the goal of my heart is. It has not revealed that to me yet, although I do suspect it has something to do with inspiration.
I only know that my heart indicates things. Whether or not I follow those indications seems to directly influence my zest for life. When I align with my heart - I feel well. When I attempt to make plans that are not with the hearts desire I become unwell. It is now my indicator of decision making. Does my heart approve?
So what is the plan?
I intend to cycle from France to Thailand. After that perhaps I will cross Canada. Those are the big goals.
For now I am just focusing on getting the bike set up and making it to the next town. Hopefully I will make it to the CERN super collider.
I have no doubt that the likelihood of failure is extremely high. (whatever failure is)
But, I also have no doubt that I am completely capable of doing ANYTHING…