I came to know Heartspace by name exactly when I needed it. Divorced for three years, I had left a steady job during the recession and was struggling as a single dad. My work wasn’t satisfying me, and I couldn’t put a finger on why that was. In the meantime, my spiritual life was unsettled, too. What my parents taught me as a child lingered in my mind, but I was displeased with religious organizations.
During a time of need, I began examining the experiences I’d had throughout my life looking for threads. I’d done this earlier in my life when I was studying community engagement, but had never focused on my own life. I found what American environmental hero John Muir wrote was true when he said, “I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.” The sound of sunshine taught me that the answers were within!
Suddenly I began to discover that many of the patterns that emerged in community engagement applied to my own life, too. The lessons I’d learned about meaningful involvement, tokenism, reflection, and so much more were equally poignant when I thought about how I’d lived and learned all my life. Suddenly I found the connections that lingered in my mind between the experiences I’d had in my rambunctious youth and those I had as a professional.
One of those experiences was that of failure, and another was the idea of loneliness. Both ideas entered my life young, and grew roots deep within my psyche throughout my teens and young adulthood. As a struggling social entrepreneur, I felt like the absence of business was always pushing me toward getting a regular job, while as a single dad I felt like my child needed the full-time presence of a woman in my house as much as she needed me. Since I didn’t have steady business as a businessman and a life partner, I often felt like a failure and a loner.
I read a barrage of literature to lighten my psychic burden. In the midst of that, and writing extensively about my life, I began to uncover the principle of engagement. Mapping out the different connections, the quality of connections, and the length of connections I’d experienced throughout my life I began to understand how Buckminster Fuller, Paulo Freire, Mother Jones, and Frank Zappa were related. I also saw how the tales from the streets of my youth, homelessness in my childhood, and the disjointed determination of my adult life were all related.
Around the same time I became re-enamored by pop music, including a wonderful ditty from a singer-songwriter named Michael Franti called “The Sound of Sunshine.” This catchy ditty had a guitar and gruff voice half-rapping, half-singing about the realities of life, including losing jobs, living poor, and the power of friendships. On the chorus a choir of strong voices joins in and everyone sings, “That’s the sound of sunshine coming down,” repeatedly. The song is about the mystery of life, and how all things work in apparent harmony, “when the sun goes down.”
Heartspace appears to be largely indifferent to our well-being or interests in the world. There’s no manifestation, guilt, or admonition that we need to learn about in order to embrace Heartspace. Instead, we can arrive simply as we are and continue living the lives we already live. However, much like the sound of sunshine, Heartspace operates in infinite perfection. All the engagements you’ve ever suffered were there with all the intention and purpose you’ve ever given to the best things you’ve ever been engaged in.
The times in life that have seemed too hard are never so hard that you couldn’t make it through to here. Your life has never given you a challenge you couldn’t handle. Heartspace is the reason for this. From point to point throughout our lives there is a string of relationships and opportunities we have. The quality, depth, breadth, and purpose of these relationships and opportunities determine whether we’re truly engaged with them. If we are engaged, then they support and sustain us. When we’re supported and sustained, we make it through anything towards the next thing in front of us. This may appear as coincidence or “just the way it works”, but without the principle of engagement there’s no point.
Because of Heartspace, life works harmoniously all the time, even when we don’t see that harmony. We don’t have to worry about causing perfection, because the universe knows no other order for things. Chaos, disconnection, suffering, and pain exist in right relationship to order, connectivity, abundance, and pleasure. Our experience of the latter is in direct response to our engagement with the former. Another way to say that is that you cannot know the light without having been in the dark. Heartspace ensures that you have all the support you need as you enter any extremity, as well as any point in between. All we need to do is allow ourselves to be in the lasting connections wherever we are. That’s Heartspace at work in our lives right now.