‘The path to your heart’s desire is never overgrown’, so says an old Ugandan proverb – according to a greetings card that I bought a few weeks ago. I bought it thinking it would be the perfect card with the perfect words for someone, someday. Then, as often happens with impulse buys (both big and small), you come home and revise your opinion: wrong colour, wrong shape, wrong size, and in this case – wrong words. I looked at it and became slightly irritated by the glib saying, and I thought to myself: if only it were that easy. The path to my heart’s desire can often look thick with weeds, really deep rooted ones, or maybe a storm has blown through over the winter, and has blown down trees and blocked the path entirely: total impasse.
I’m in Yorkshire this week, doing some work with a women’s group I’m involved with. It is a wonderful, vibrant, energetic, positive place, but there are a lot of people here whose path is so overgrown that they’ve long since forgotten what their heart’s desire is. And I understand that. To tell someone who has lost their way on the path of life that a boreen green is winding before them, that it’s not at all overgrown, is (like many of these positive affirmations) not remotely helpful without some support to help you clear the path. When you are taken up with the business (and busy-ness) of life, work, and family-rearing sometimes your heart’s desire gets pushed into the ditch, or – more likely – shoved up into the roof space; that dusty attic burial ground of creativity, filled with easels, guitars, tapes for learning Spanish, songbooks, fishing rods – all those things that you dismissed as a passing ‘fad’ before getting back to life’s ‘real’ demands. But were they really a fad? Or were you actually pursing your heart’s desire but relegated your passion to the bottom of the list so that you could live a life less frivolous?
There is nothing quite like the sun coming out to deliver us some hope, to bring a renewal of energy for beginning that metaphorical weeding, for us to start thinking of the little joys that we can resurrect. As Glen Campbell, dressed as full Rhinestone Cowboy, sang to me on the car radio yesterday; “There’s been a load of compromisin’ / On the road to my horizon / But I’m gonna be where the lights are shinin’ on me.” If you have lost track of your heart’s desire, I hope that a little sun shining on you might illuminate that lost passion, that you can re-emerge from your own cocoon and follow your bliss. Start saying yes to yourself, for a change.
‘Emerging’, By Pablo Neruda
‘A man says yes without knowing
how to decide even what the question is,
and is caught up, and then is carried along
and never again escapes from his own cocoon;
and that’s how we are, forever falling
into the deep well of other beings;
and one thread wraps itself around our necks,
another entwines a foot, and then it is impossible,
impossible to move except in the well –
nobody can rescue us from other people.
‘It seems as if we don’t know how to speak;
it seems as if there are words which escape,
which are missing, which have gone away and left us
to ourselves, tangled up in snares and threads.
‘And all at once, that’s it; we no longer know
what it’s all about, but we are deep inside it,
and now we will never see with the same eyes
as once we did when we were children playing.
Now these eyes are closed to us,
Now our hands emerge from different arms.
‘And therefore when you sleep, you are alone in your dreaming,
and running freely through the corridors
of one dream only, which belongs to you.
Oh never let them come to steal our dreams,
never let them entwine us in our bed.
Let us hold on to the shadows
to see if, from our own obscurity,
we emerge and grope along the walls,
lie in wait for the light, to capture it,
till, once and for all time,
it becomes our own, the sun of every day.’