One thing that I love dearly is conversation. I don’t mean small talk, I mean conversations so deep that you lose all track of time. The conversations that expand your thoughts and even more importantly, your heart. I want to hear your story.
It took me many years to realize that ever since I was in high school, I have been fascinated by getting to know people from other countries. I am sure it has something to do with growing up in a small town and being curious about the world. I knew even at a young age…there had to be more out there than what I knew.
This all really began my sophomore year in high school. There was a lady who hosted foreign exchange students and somehow I got to know her. Oddly enough, I can’t remember how. But each summer, she would call me and let me know when the new kids for the upcoming school year had arrived and we’d all go bowling in the next town over.
Looking back, she did me such a huge favor by allowing me to be a small part of their world. It was neat to me because each school year, they’d already have at least one friend when school started, and well, I would have people to sit with at lunch. I can still remember some of our conversations and it taught me that no matter where you are from, or how different your culture is, we are all human. What a beautiful, beautiful thing to learn as a teenager.
That lady will never know that she gave me a passport into so many different worlds and that would set me up for a lifetime of meeting strangers from other countries who would become dear friends of mine. Never underestimate how the things you do become the wonderful ripples in the lives of others.
Conversations can be just as powerful with anyone on your path, though. If you are connected to the right people, you’ll be inspired and you’ll feel safe and you will wake up one day and realize you actually aren’t supposed to have to overthink everything. Sometimes, you find the right people and you can just be you. What a beautiful, beautiful thing to learn. I only wish I could have learned it sooner.
—-Places like this were made for conversations…a bookstore in Camden, ME. So perfect. But really, with the right people, even a stairwell can be perfect.—-
All of this leads me to a conversation I had a few months ago. It wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, but somehow the word, “heartwood” came up and I wrote the word, along with the definition, on an index card and left it thrown on my desk. I found it today while cleaning out my office and so many thoughts started flooding through my mind. I love when that happens.
Heartwood: inner wood of the tree. Although heartwood is no longer living and transporting materials, it provides the needed strength for the tree to support the weight of all the branches and leaves.
There are so many ways to run with this, but my first thought was that our heartwood is our past. You know, for so many of us, that part of us we want to hide away or wish never happened.
You may not be able to go back and change a single moment of it–not something you said that you wish you hadn’t, not something you didn’t say but wish you had–not one moment of it. However, our heartwood is made up of every single thing we have ever experienced. It’s every book you’ve ever read, every person you’ve ever sat beside while having a conversation, every song you’ve ever belted out in anger or sadness, every concert you’ve attended, every place you’ve ever lived, ever visited, every mistake you’ve ever learned from, it’s every moment you sat in school–possibly wishing to be anywhere but there. It’s even every disappointment, everything that caused you pain or left a scar, everything you have ever seen, heard, tasted, wasted money on, worked for, failed at, succeeded at. The list is infinite.
It is all of the versions of you that you have outgrown. That’s your heartwood. And you wouldn’t have the courage, or strength, to stand without it.