Listening to your heart

Daily Reading for March 6

Listening to your heart is not simple. Finding out who you are is not simple. It takes a lot of hard work and courage to get to know who you are and what you want. I never knew what to say if someone asked me at a party, “What do you do?” Artist, writer, therapist, wife, mother—I would be judged by the label I chose. The Amish make no distinction. No one is labeled cook, quilter, or housewife. In fact, standing out would be a sign of false pride. I remembered Miriam saying, “Making a batch of vegetable soup, it’s not right for the carrot to say I taste better than the peas, or the pea to say I taste better than the cabbage. It takes all the vegetables to make a good soup!” . . .

“The first principle of a warrior is not being afraid of who you are,” a wise Tibetan leader once said. I was beginning to feel what he meant. And I have another choice—to accept what I didn’t get to choose. I could have wished for a calmer nature and on and on, a very long list, but what I finally get to choose is that tiny space between all the givens. In that tiny space is freedom. . . .

The need to be special and stand out, the need for communality, to be part of the whole, the hunger to belong, to be one among the many—these equally competing, conflicting values are all part of me. All the contradictions are still there. I still feel the pulls. I don’t want to go and live on a farm, but I long for a simpler life. To reconcile these seeming opposites, to see them as both, not one or the other, is my constant challenge.

From Plain and Simple: A Woman’s Journey to the Amish by Sue Bender (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1989).

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