P H O T O    E S S A Y
The psychadelic hippy VW

MY MOM'S MESSAGE Letters from Lennie

Who IS a Hippy

The Price of Freedom

Following One's Heart

LILAC'S BOOK: Random Advice & Hippy Values.

Return to mighty

Cute little mailbox
Send Bill mail
Bill Orton on Hippy Values Column 3:
Following One's Heart

       Exploring one's heart.

       In a sense, this is the hardest of all work.

       We each live free, as mentioned in the first of these columns. We are free to engage in life largely on our own terms.

       But to do so requires the knowledge of your desires. To exercise one's own will is to know one's will. And the will is found in the heart.

       There are repercussions about following the heart blindly, as mentioned in the second column. But far greater are the consequences of not following your heart, for those costs are measured with words like "regret" and "sadness" and "despair."

       How do you search your heart? Of course, I only know my own life and my own methods. I cannot pretend to know how your heart functions or the best path to it.

       But an important starting point is to listen. By listening to what you are feeling, you will be able to catalog things.
  • What do you like and dislike?
  • Are there aspects of other people that you wish to not experience in your personal space?
  • Are there such aspects of yourself?
  • What or who makes you smile?
  • What do you do during the day that you absolutely love to do?
  • What or who inspires you?

Mom rafting in Alaska
My mom, in her mid-40s, river rafting in Alaska.

       Picture yourself as a rock. Your heart is a riverbed. Your emotions flow over you, as water over that rock. And if you are lucky, you can see its flow. If you are patient, you will begin to see patterns in the flow. Casting a dam across a flowing river stops things.

       Don't dam up your heart. Don't deny yourself of its potential.

       Understand your heart. Watch your emotions. Let them flow over you. If you feel tears welling up, then let that flow over you. (As I tell my daughter, Lilac, "tears are good... they wash the eyeballs... and they make you feel better.") Cast no dams across that flow, but feel it instead.

       After a while, you will be better able to predict the items floating and bobbing in your emotional river. You will be able to determine in advance, even, how your heart may react to that which you are considering at any given time.

       And that is the beginnings of "knowing" your heart.

       The steps that follow are the evolution of the person. We BECOME who we are, and this is very much a process of discovering what lay inside our heart. For to KNOW is to be empowered to FOLLOW one's heart.

       Politics is in my heart. It always has been for as far back as I can remember. When I was six, I wondered who that guy with the big ears and funny voice was, he being Lyndon Johnson, the President of the United States. My principal understanding of the 1968 Democratic Convention revolved around (1) watching my parents watching it on TV and (2) the chopped chicken liver that my mom made as the appetizer to go along with watching the people being clubbed on the head by guys on horseback.

       That, oddly enough, is a big part of my heart. And while it may not be in your own desires, it is important to me that I know this about myself.

       It has allowed me to focus myself ever since I knew that politics mattered to me. I have been able to find work in this field, even, in large part because I knew I wanted to work in the field and I dogged people for jobs.

       I have convinced three different state lawmakers to hire me, largely because I convinced them that this is "my business."

       It doesn't have to be politics.

       For my mom, music has always lit a lamp in my mother's heart. At one point, for about 15 or 20 years, the lamp went dim, but did not completely flicker out. It almost did.

       For the rest of my days, one of the birthday gifts I shall always be happiest that I ha a part in giving was last April, when, as chance would have it, I stumbled across Dan Murphy.

       Dan is one of the more remarkable banjo players around. It was on my mother's birthday in 1999 that I was at the Sunday farmers' market, and I heard the banjo playing, AND I KNEW that whoever was playing the banjo had to come to my mom's birthday BBQ later that day. When I met Dan and asked if he was available later that day, his reply was: "I'm a musician. That is what I do."

Dan Murphy on fiddle and my mom on guitar
Dan Murphy on fiddle and my mom on guitar, 1999.

       Between the gig on my mom's birthday and the boom box that finally allowed my mom to transition up to CDs, I helped bring up the flame on the music lamp in my mom's heart. It was always there. I did not give her any gift. I just hooked her back into a light that was already burning. But in this past year, she has jammed with Dan maybe half-a-dozen times, bought another guitar, started back into learning new songs and is playing again.

       The heart finds you, if you let it. Whatever lights your heart, then make it your business to love all that goes into keeping that lamp lit and burning brightly.


       Feel free to write to me, if you wish. If you have a question, I promise a response. If you wish to have the answer printed in this column, just say so in your email message.

When I was around 6 When I was around 34 taking Lilac into the ocean for the first time

If you like this column, then check out
LILAC'S BOOK: Random Advice & Hippy Values,
a book that Bill wrote for his daughter and which has been on
H I P P Y L A N D continuously since January 3, 1997.

This column © 2000 by Bill Orton.