How to Be Sure

follow the heart ~ by alicepopkorn.

Photo by Alicepopkorn; creative commons license.

 

Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary. Then ask yourself, and yourself alone, one question . . . 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.
–Carlos Castaneda
 

My neophyte, Artemis, sat at my feet last night, drinking an ice-cold Coke from the fridge, dark eyes shining brightly in the lamp light of my Bohemian room with the purple curtains and tapestries on the wall.  Somehow, we always end up in this room, with at least one of us sitting on the floor, usually my neophyte.  Somehow, I’m always asked a question that makes me laugh.  I adore this girl.

I know by now that whatever I teach, I also am learning.  Questions are often as much for me as for my student.  Anyone who thinks I think I know it all doesn’t know me very well.  I am still a student of life and always will be.  I love learning and I love this journey.

Neophyte:  I don’t know what to do. I’m torn in two different directions.  How can I be sure I’m doing the right thing?

I think it’s a disservice to people in their teens and twenties to let them think that anyone older than that truly knows exactly what they’re doing and never makes mistakes.  It’s not that you suddenly become legal age or any age and then you know exactly the next step in life.  We spoke of control and not having control, of the ebb and flow of life, of following your passion and aligning yourself with those who show you love instead of making you feel horrible about yourself on a regular basis.  I’ve seen few people who act as if they have it all together who really do, and a whole lot of fakers out there.  And that’s what I told my neophyte.  You have to figure out how to trust your instincts and not turn away from them just because of what seems logical or what you’re badgered into doing so that you have to choose between your happiness and someone else’s.  Any time you have to choose between your happiness and someone else’s, you will never win by choosing the other person’s intentions for your life, and soon enough, you’ll resent and regret.

We talked for a few hours, a long and loving Life-Death-and-the-Universe conversation.  Then we went for groceries and eventually out to a local festival, under a starry sky with a Disseminating Moon that looked like some great evil eye in my neophyte’s favorite horror movie.   Watching the festival crowds, we sat in the grass, shivering,  cell phones in hand as we texted and talked to friends and to each other, and occasionally snapped a camera phone pic of each other. 

By the time we headed back to my house, the question had long disappeared into the chilly Autumn air.  We were all tired by then, ready for bed, and most of all for dreams.