giving back, simplified

“Follow your heartbreak.”
– Andrew Harvey

This quote is, of course, a variation on Joseph Campbell’s “follow your bliss.” It basically means that each of us has a unique sensitivity (or outrage or passion or grief) when it comes to a particular need in the world. And, like the bliss that lives in each of us, that heartbreak is asking to be followed. It, too, is a clue to self-actualization.

I saw a documentary once about a woman, who wasn’t even from the Ukraine, moving there specifically to devote her life to caring for babies with birth defects from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. I know people who feel deeply connected to animals and who are, in turn, animal rights activists. My friend Felix works for the rights of migrant farm workers because he himself grew up working in the fields. And what about that woman who lived up in a redwood tree for two years to save it from being cut down! All of these people followed their unique heartbreaks and took action.

Honestly, I feel paralyzed by the amount of work there is to be done in the world. How do I even begin to do my part? How do I find the time for it? Then I tell myself that I don’t have to be superwoman. I don’t even have to be an activist! But I do aspire to be a good citizen (of my democracy, of this earth). I feel less paralyzed when I can connect with my unique heartbreak and take a few steps. Even if it means carefully choosing a non-profit that I believe in 100% and donating to it, perhaps even volunteering for it a few hours a month. Heart plus effort is a pretty powerful combo.

How have you followed your heartbreak? How do you follow it now?