A Path with a Heart

May, 2020

A Path with a Heart

This is my thirtieth year as a career coach, and my ninth writing blogs. This has been a year like no other. Each of us is navigating personal, professional and community pursuits that have been radically disrupted by the Covid-19 crisis.

Fortunately, most of the suggestions from my nine years of blogging remain valid today. As you prepare for your next step, however, consider one additional tool for your discernment process. This tool consists of just one question, “Does this path have a heart?”

In a time of massive disruption, displacement and political polarization, this question becomes even more important. At risk is our fragile humanity and inherent goodness.

In this blog I will be sharing a book passage by writer Carlos Castaneda. I first read this passage in college, and have returned to it often when facing personal, professional or community decisions.

To help get you in the right mood and mindset, watch this emotionally engaging and inspirational three minute video from Thailand, sent to me by Hilary Beste.

You will hear Thai narration and see English subtitles.

Early in the video, a man puts a donation into the outstretched cup of a small child sitting by her mother. Her sign reads “For Education.”

This is one of many kind acts the man performs in his day.

The Narrator says:

“What does he get in return for doing this every day?

He gets nothing.

He won’t get richer.

Won’t appear on TV.

Still anonymous.

And not a bit more famous.

What he does receive are emotions.

He witnesses happiness.

Reaches a deeper understanding.

Feels the love.

Receives what money can’t buy.

A world made more beautiful.

And in your life,

what is it that you desire most?”

The following passage from The Teachings of Don Juan, by Carlos Castaneda, is about following a path with a heart.

“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. Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary.

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. 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.”

I encourage you to ask yourself, “Does this path have a heart?” at your next personal, professional or community crossroad. I also suggest you reread and edit the path with a heart passage. Replace the words “a heart” each time they appear in the text with integrity, purpose, love or your own preferred word(s). This exercise will help you find your path of least resistance and greatest fulfillment.

Take care, stay well, and remember to follow your heart.