How to Approach Unchartered Heart Territory.
By Shelley Reece
“Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.” ~ John O’Donohue
I made a blog this year and called it What Do You Call a Rabbit That Hasn’t after a piece of writing I came across in English 101. It was written exactly like that — an un-ended question — and the majority of the students in my class were annoyed by it.
They wanted to know how the question ended, in order to begin formulating answers for it.
I loved the question exactly as it is. Open-ended, the question itself became the focus — not the answer. The experience of reading it was like being Dorothy and following the yellow brick road — only to have it crumble and disappear off the edge of a long, wind-swept cliff where a bridge used to be.
There is no response other than Oh. There is no response other than to feel the wind carry on past you, into the yawning abyss where your thoughts can’t follow.
There is no response other than to accept that you will never know what the end of that question is — and you will never have answer.
At the moment my life feels a little like an unended question. What do you call a college student that?
As of the weekend, a campus of opportunity stretches out before me, and I am bombarded with the question, “What will your college experience look like?” Will I be a leader in my student resident halls? (Probably not). Will I find the honor society on campus, or an apprenticeship program, or join the choir, or win a scholarship, or write for the newspaper, or… Like the abyss below the bridge, there are places yet that my thoughts can’t get to — cannot comprehend. Opportunities I don’t even know exist await me.
For the first time, I understand why that question bothered my classmates. What do you call a rabbit that hasn’t?
“Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming.” ~ John O’Donohue
Now, as it was then, the only answer is surrender. Surrender to the truth that I don’t know the answer to. I don’t even know the question. Surrender to the experience — the everyday motion of putting one foot in front of the other and wandering where they take me.
Be open to all possible answers and endings to the question, and likewise, don’t be in too much of a hurry to choose only one, even though there is comfort in consistency. Look around. Smile at people. Go back to my dorm room and do the things that bring comfort, like making tea and writing.
This beginning that I have worked hard for is only a beginning. It is a desire that grew within me and longed to be made manifest. Of course it is still an unended question. It is as new as the first sentence on a rough draft that is going nowhere — just a tumble of thoughts longing to find shape and form.
Like every other essay and story I have ever written, it will require a thousand re-writes and discarded opening statements before the story my life longs to tell will unfold.
Shelley Reece was born in the rural hills of Northern Wales and left the United Kingdom to attend university in California. She was raised by her grandmother, whose death in her teenage years left her deeply fascinated with the human condition and all that it entails — our bodies, our minds, our hearts, our souls, our emotions and our spirituality. She is currently studying anthropology and archaeology, and hopes to one day be able to breathe life into the stories of lives long past, so that the world may better understand the unique condition of ‘being human’.