The Warrior's Path of the Broken Heart: Mysterious, F*cking Fierce, Gwen Bell
Gwen Bell is a Mystery. On one hand, I see her as the personification of Fierce Wisdom. Fiercely alive, dancing the razor's edge, cutting through B.S., always testing and pushing the edges of her gift.
On the other hand she defies all categorization, landing somewhere in the mysterious realm of Crazy Wisdom. In the tension of this balance there emerges the elements of true genius.
I wrote to her recently to try and get some clarity on my life situation, because I knew she could understand the pain I was going through in the way she only could.
Gwen's newest project is Fucking Fierce: The Digital Intensive.
My whole reason to exist came into real question with the unexpected ending of a nearly 3-year relationship recently. The circumstances surrounding the break-up were especially hard, and I was left violently mad and heart-broken, with the ground pulled out from beneath me....
You know I Iove pushing the edges, but I was shocked at how hard this all hit me. Now I'm a bit despondent as I try and redefine myself and my purpose, and carve new meaning for this life. Part of me craves this uber-simplified life where I go and hide with almost no worldly engagement whatsoever, and the other part of me demands an epic life of adventure and bigness.
Much of the time it feels like I'm just in an epic battle with myself, and rectifying the parts of me that are both human and other worldy. So I'm calling on you for some advice. I know you understand my predicament like only very few people could.
Sending love and gratitude,
Here are my questions...
1. Do you have any thoughts or advice on all this?
Thoughts that came up as I read were compassion/understanding: yes, I know what that feeling is like to - to have my heart broken, to have the ground pulled out from under my feet.
I know what it feels like to resist that.
I am reminded of something Chogyam Trungpa said: The bad news is you're falling through the air, nothing to hold on to, no parachute. The good news is there's no ground.
It is oddly comforting, to know both that we're falling and that there's no ground. And I think the real challenge for all of us is to stay open knowing both elements are true - no parachute...but also...no ground. (Pema Chodron has a lot to say about staying openhearted in this groundless state. It's not necessarily comforting, but it is honest.)
2. In your contribution for Edge Flow you mention the warrior's path of a broken heart -- what does that really mean to you?
It really means that. To stay open towards myself and others when I'd rather close down. I found myself in a situation recently where someone who seemed to be on drugs wanted to shake my hand. He seemed a stranger, his breath smelled like alcohol, and I was holding my wallet in my left hand. I hesitated - I honestly didn't want to shake his hand. Then, I leaned in instead of backing away. I shook his hand and he said, "you know, you have the most beautiful eyes." And it really touched me. And then we both went on our way.
3. What do you believe is your real reason for existence, and how do you get to this?
I believe less in "real reason for existence" and more in "purpose to discover." I think I have to discover my purpose - through working - and do it with all my might. I think being fucking fierce with my life is staying open, staying tender, when I am unsure, unstable or insecure about myself. To keep working and offering my heart even when I'd rather hide out under the covers. (Or, to hide and really hide, like a chinchilla, so I can get back out there again.)
4. Why should I keep going, or not?
An unanswerable question. But if you're seriously thinking about this in more of a "why should I go on" way, the best advice I can give is that you get better - more professional advice - than mine. I'm not qualified to help beyond sharing my own experience. I hear - and feel - you.
5. Why do you think it seems like so many people are going through existential crises at the moment? (velocity...?)
I'm not sure I see it in the same way. I am not currently going through an existential crisis but sometimes we think the world is going through what we're going through. Like, you buy a red car and suddenly all you see on the road is red cars?
Be well, Satya.
Shortly after writing to Gwen I went to Portland for Chris's summit, jumped out of a plane, and experienced an overflow of love like I've never quite felt before amidst a few hundred of the world's most remarkable people. As a result of all this I found my heart exploding open, and my reality expanding to a new level of flow (more about all that here).
I can truly say now, without a doubt, the path of the broken heart is the way of a truly great life. But this is not an easy path.
At some point in the free fall you reach maximum speed -- terminal velocity -- and the sensation of falling is replaced by something much different. Before this, you have to face the fact that the parachute might not open. This is the warrior's path of fierce wisdom.
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