In that blur of final days leading to my ‘refirement’ from Medtronic (and 31 years of Corporate engagement) I received many gifts, none more memorable than the medallion ceremony. Whether the chill mist hailed from the gray April sky or the thundering torrent of Minnehaha Falls, neither dampened our spirits. I had so looked forward to that early morning, presenting achievement medallions to three devoted (and loved if they knew it) mentees: Heather, Keyia and Kim. Earlier, on the winding drive there down Minnehaha Creek, I rehearsed the words I had chosen to honor their achievement. Something precious. Something dangerous. Advice! Now, five weeks into my refirement, I still bite my tongue and refrain from asking what they’ve done with it. Yet, this week, I realize that its I who need the very advice I gave. Or at least the core. One word. A most powerful and freeing word.
Heather, Keyia and Kim might be shocked to learn of their mentor’s struggle (they always did put me on much too high a pedestal for my comfort). As gloved hands raised our glasses of bubbly apple juice, Kim teased me by boomeranging my favorite question, “What’s your Y?”. In our profession’s jargon, the Y measures success. “I’ve forgotten,” I embarrassingly admitted. More than embarrassed, I recall feeling disturbed. Even scared. If I’ve forgotten how to measure success---what my refirement success really looks like---I’m apt to wander off course. Miss the mark. Refire without aim.
So I begged. And Kim (though she knew she shouldn’t) told me what I ‘d once told her over Pink Flower spring rolls. “My Y is percent heart decisions.” It all seemed so clear, so easy, back then. I knew that if I let my mind make the big refirement decisions, I was doomed. My mind is out to kill me. Don’t feel bad little mind. You’re great at the how, at assembling and executing a plan of action. But when it comes to the what---envisioning possibilities and choosing the ones that really matter---my heart has made all the great decisions. Too often, I’d overburdened little mind with questions he can’t answer. Wasn’t made to answer. But refirement was going to be different. I wanted heart (and soul) to lead the way.
I feel called to a conversation of hope with the world. For the world. How ridiculously impossible, says my mind. Yet heart knows better. ‘Seek ye first the kingdom’. So that was my Y. Percent heart decisions. Plot it. Monitor like with some kind of gas gauge.
I’m not doing so well. Below the red line. Mind racing. Running on heart fumes.
Days. Weeks. Months now of prepping our old house for sale. Little mind outpaces heart, creating project lists faster than heart can say, ‘Stop! Wait! What really matters right now?’ But little mind already has a plan for the day. Deliverables (door painted, lawn mowed, bedrooms packed and staged, basement wall painted). Items needed (two brushes, primer paint, wall paint, lawn mower). And both lists are in ink, on Medtronic Lean Sigma note paper. How can heart argue with such precision?
Then why do I feel so tense? Why do I snap so readily at Linda (“I threw the wrong box away, OK!”)? Why do I wake before robin sings? Oh robin!!! Tell me! My heart listens.
Ah, the deck at dawn! First light on river birch, virgin leaves shimmering. Dancing. And silly loon, far off, crying for the beauty of another day. And I’m writing. Not this blog---connecting as it is---but my story of hope. My calling, which I’d forsaken for the first time in seven years. Oh little mind. I understand you thought it right, best even, to focus all my energy on leaving the current house. But heart begs me back to my story. To the Corridor. And especially to 17 year old Amelan.
I used to laugh at his myopic focus on mind. Not that he’s out of touch with his feelings, but his mind always decides what to do with them. Sorry Amelan! I finally understand you. Heck, I’ve become you. Fiery Elli, his travelling companion and first time love interest, confuses him by insisting he follow his heart. He tries. Fails. Blames her for expecting him to be someone he’s not.
And that’s only the beginning of his challenge. Along the Way to Dego’s Village he tries to heal the ailing Skye, forge his first love and escape his father’s demands. Yet all these things, important as they are, continually distract him from his goal: vie for Poet of the Corridor from atop the Poet’s Tower.
But it’s Skye, his other travelling companion (and his grandmother were he to know it), who helps them both. “Heart AND head”, she suggests. This Amelan is willing to try. He can be his heady self AND try to be so much more. Not one or the other but both. Fully human. Fully engaged. “Paddling the river of AND,” as he describes it.
Heather, Keyia and Kim, it seems I’ve neglected to take the core of the advice I gave you. The core of the advice Skye gave Amelan. That one word. That most powerful word. AND.
Head AND Heart.
Isn’t that the point to all this anyway? Scraping glue off floors. Stepping down as Medtronic mentor. Midnight meetings with the new home architect. Isn’t it all about engaging my new life? Heeding my call? Bringing a story of hope into the world? Like Amelan seeking to vie for Poet of the Corridor, I must attend to other things as well. The challenge is keeping my eye on the prize: my call. Or is that your job, heart?
Ho my! I just noticed the first spiderwort bloom. So blue here in the garden before sunrise. I don’t know why but it makes me sad. That darned heart.
% Heart decisions. I’m above the red line. At this turn in the river.