I’m no risk taker. I don’t gamble. I don’t play the market. I like solid and long-term investments; they’re safer—like, say, real estate, where, even then, my capital is limited to a home and another piece to keep and sell for a profit when the time comes.
So, how do I explain why, surprising myself as everybody else, I quit a safe and secure marriage of 20 years to chase after the promise of happiness with a now-or-never urgency? I probably didn’t even have an idea what happiness was at that point in my life, although I knew what happiness was not, which in itself made it a big gamble.
Friends and family still ask me what happened, but even if I wanted to, and, in fact, tried, I still couldn’t reply in terms rational enough for them to understand.
And I can’t explain my second marriage, either—how, despite the great odds and illogic it has been up against, it works and feels right. But why does anyone really have to understand anyone else in such cases when it’s hard enough to understand oneself? I only wish everybody just trusted me and wished me the best.
Well, I did get my well-wishers, but I had far more naysayers, who saw my gamble as not only selfish but also pure madness. All I knew was I longed desperately for a fresh start—at whatever cost—and at that moment I revealed myself not only as a risk taker but as a pretty reckless one, taking so critical a gamble on life in midlife.
At 40 I suddenly determined that life is about feelings more than anything else and, as adolescent as it sounds, I had felt the same once, lost that feeling, and wanted to feel it again. I didn’t realize until much later that the risks were, in fact, paying off big-time for me, in ways important to me. I could only hope things would work out eventually, if they hadn’t yet, for all the other characters involved.
In many cases I know, time was all it took for things to set themselves right. But in my own case I couldn’t have even begun without the guidance of a teacher, the precise sort that appears when the student is ready. Coming from the east (as they seem to always do), she taught me to listen to and trust my heart—it never lies.
Although it tends to turn the normal course of things around, it felt self-validating. Possibly at that moment I, in fact, began listening to my heart, not my head, which, by my newly learned philosophy, was only to follow the former.
Even for practical purposes, like health for instance, my husband and I like to follow our hearts, too. We’ve decided not to rely on Western medicine alone but to go for natural remedies. We start the day with our garlic-ginger-honey-lemon concoction, eat less meat and more veggies, exercise—me on the treadmill, he on the tennis court—and end the day with a fish-oil capsule each. We do go for regular medical checkups, but have determined to stay away from invasive ones.
Are we taking a risk? You bet we are. At our age, the simple thing of getting up from bed could be a risk, taking a shower even more so. But we carry on with our best hopes—without of course being careless or fatalistic—with an ear to our hearts.
Eastern philosophy has made me sensitive to the workings of grace in my life. It humbles me to realize that it takes grace to even feel love and gratitude, and it gratifies me no end to feel those feelings rise in me spontaneously throughout the day.
Indeed, it overwhelms me to realize how much grace abounds in everyone’s life, and to see how it even protects us from ourselves.
We are grateful every day that we see our children get on well with their own lives as well as their life with us, despite the great risks we took.
It’s all grace, assures my teacher, who compares it with the sun that shines for everyone: One only has to come out to receive and welcome it.