365 Days of Courage #35: "That clock you hear is the sound of your own heart"
Hello and Happy First Monday of February!
It was a balmy 37 degrees when I walked my dog this morning with a hazy glow over the New York skyline. It felt SO good after the bitterly cold weather of the past couple of weeks.
It's hard to believe that February is already here but here it is, the month of love and red hearts in every shop window. It was Groundhog Day here in the US on Saturday and apparently there will be an early Spring which felt very hard to believe on Saturday but much easier to imagine on a gorgeous day like today.
In January, in 365 Days of Courage, I wrote a great deal about how midlife brings with it an increasing desire to live more fully and more intentionally. You can feel time literally running out and, for many people, that feeling is a catalyst for living more satisfying and more meaningful lives. I also wrote about getting out of your own way and "just doing it". It's too easy to get stuck in years (or decades) of analysis-paralysis and one of the true gifts of midlife (if we choose to receive it) is the reality that you simply don't have time to sit around on the sidelines any more. If there are things that you want to do, now is the time.
As I thought about what I want to write about this month, I realized that February is the perfect month to write about the core meaning of the word "Courage" which is "to speak one's mind by telling all one's heart". Courage is a heart word so this month I'm going to explore what it means to "tell all one's heart".
As I think about people who are "telling their own heart", Lin Manuel Miranda immediately comes to mind.
In his acceptance speech at the Tony's in 2016, Lin Manuel Miranda read a sonnet he had written.
One line took my breath away:
"We chase the melodies that seem to find us until they’re finished songs and start to play"
What are "the melodies that seem to find [you]"?
What are the things that you find yourself talking about time and time again with friends? I've started to call them "Groundhog Day Dreams" - the things you talk about again and again and again and again. The things/people/places that you find yourself strangely drawn to?
To me, these things are your heart's desires. They are the things that your heart is telling you to pursue, to explore and discover. They are instinctively within you. They are not the things that society or parents or teachers tell you to do. They are the treasures hidden within you.
In her book "Big Magic: creative living beyond fear", Elizabeth Gilbert writes:
"The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them. ... So this, I believe, is the central question upon which all creative living hinges: Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?”
So when Lin Manuel Miranda talks about the "melodies that seem to find you", I think of Groundhog Day Dreams - the dreams and hopes and visions that we somehow can't seem to shake. Even though we too often do nothing to bring them to life, they remain clinging to our soul like determined toddlers who cling to our legs adamant that we will pick them up and carry them.
In the week ahead, I would love you to ponder on what would it take to turn those "melodies" you chase into "finished songs?" And not just ponder but actually take a small step toward turning one of the melodies that seems to find you into a finished song.
I think we can have many melodies chasing us and that can be a part of the problem. We are so torn between different melodies that we end up ignoring all of them.
Two of the most significant melodies that have kept finding me in my life are coaching and writing.
Being a coach is a melody that I have chased for over a decade since I first read "Finding Your Own North Star" by Martha Beck and trained as a life coach with her.
But, because it was SO meaningful to me, I would chase it and then slow down (by allowing other less important things to get in the way) so that it always felt slightly out of my reach.
Writing is another melody that I think has chased me since childhood. In my early 30's, I chased the melody of stand up comedy writing but, again, because it was SO VERY MEANINGFUL TO ME, I would always slow down and let it get out of my reach by putting other far less meaningful things in the way. I will write much, much more about this in the months ahead.
Last year was the year I decided to turn those two melodies into a finished song. To admit how important coaching and writing are to me and that they are two elements of my body of work that I want to leave behind as part of my legacy.
As I turned 50 last year, I decided to embrace the melodies instead of the fears.
Lin Manuel Miranda is someone who is creating an extraordinary legacy by the work he is doing in the world. Whether you watch "Hamilton" or an interview with him or his acceptance speech at the Tony's, you see a man who is 100% true to himself. He shows up fully as himself and "speaking his own mind by telling his own heart" each and every day.
The sonnet he read as his acceptance speech at the Tony's was a perfect example of his creativity, his intellect and his compassion. Click on the image below to watch him read the sonnet or read it below:
"My wife’s the reason anything gets done/ She nudges me towards promise by degrees / She is a perfect symphony of one/ Our son is her most beautiful reprise.
We chase the melodies that seem to find us until they’re finished songs and start to play/ When senseless acts of tragedy remind us that nothing here is promised, not one day.
This show is proof that history remembers/ We live through times when hate and fear seem stronger/ We rise and fall and light from dying embers remembrance that hope and love last forever.
Love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love cannot be killed or swept aside/ I sing Vanessa’s symphony. Eliza tells her story. [we] fill the world with music, love, and pride."
Thank you for letting me share your Monday. As you start a new week and a new month, I'd love to hear from you as to how you intend to chase the melodies that seem to find you.
I wish you a week that takes you closer to the finished song.