going with all your heart

Henri Matisse, The Heart (La Coeur), 1947

As I wrap up my gap year and head back to the books, I realize that I’ve made a lot of wild decisions over the past year. I decided to take a gap year with nothing in place but trusted I would figure it out. I decided to leave my business school offer and applied to transfer to study Cognitive Science at UBC. On a whim, I drafted and sent a cold email for an internship listing I’d been eyeing for a while, after a big fight with my parents about transferring and my future. Said email led to Andrew and Sam taking a chance on me. On a whim, I decided to move to a coliving house in NYC for 6 weeks.

I learned a lot about myself then.

If you’ve watched Everything Everyowhere All At Once, you’ll know the scenes with the multiverses. Where Evelyn, Michelle Yeoh’s character, by executing some improbable action, jumps through different universes that could’ve happened as the result of an alternate decision branch. Each decision renders infinte possibilities.

It’s interesting to think about the butterfly effects. How the little things add up and fit together like Lego blocks to build your life. How, if parallel universes exist, somewhere out there exists verisons of you living entirely different lives.

Ones where I could have been a better daughter to my parents when I was growing up. Ones where I didn’t make that crucial decision which (probably) costed me my health for a few years. On the flipside, maybe even ones where I’m a lot unhappier than I am now.

The life I’m living now is one I could’ve only dreamed of a few years ago. To be mostly healthy. To have my loved ones. To have gotten the chance to live in NYC. To be able to have worked with such talented people.

Maybe on the outside, it seems like I’ve got it figured out. In reality, I often felt plagued by self-doubt throughout my gap year. More than once, I’ve wondered if I’m living the worst version of myself out of all the parallel universe Vivians (kidding, mostly.)

Hayao Miyazaki: To exist here, now, means to lose the possibility of being countless other potential selves. I think about this all the time: how the self I am now is different from all my other potential selves just by virtue of being physically here and not anywhere else. There are consequences to that decision, but again, choosing is the hardest part. After that, you learn to love it. As they say: “wherever you go, there you are." That quote is meant to come from Confucius but the actual Mandarin translation ends up being “wherever you go, go with all your heart." Either way you read it is pretty beautiful.

thanks to nicole for sharing this in her essay, “choices”, here. i was inspired a lot by her writing 🙂

I exist here, now, in Vancouver. I chose a year ago that I would want to be here come September 2022, and I choose to be here, now. Lately, I’ve been feeling as though my heartstrings are being pulled on by different forces. It feels as though I have one foot in and one foot out the door. Halfhearted, or maybe three quarters-hearted. A big part of me wonders what I’m giving up by going back to university.

I mean, ever since you’re young, you’re told to go to uni, get your degree, and work. It’s only in Silicon Valley where I’ve been asked by people older than me, more than once, if I’ve dropped out or at least considered it. Isn’t that funny? I’ve always found that a bit surreal.

What am I giving up by doing this? What could’ve been? Where could I go if I wasn’t in Vancouver?

These are all questions that have been on repeat. And the truth is, I will never have the answers. As someone who seeks to understand, that’s frustrating. But to think about these infinite possibilities is condemnation for your life in the present — you’re cheating yourself in the end.

I’m also feeling distracted by the boundless opportunities available to me. I could apply for that fellowship, I could start my own entrepreneurial endeavour, the list goes on and on.

But I have to parse for myself, what I truly desire versus what I think could be nice but doesn’t actually align with who I am or what I need now. There are times for exploration and times for focus.

I just moved to a new city. A new university. At this point in time, I want to concentrate on settling in and becoming acquainted. To find clarity in the blurriness. Finding my rhythm and stepping in beat with my heart

It’s hard, but I’m realizing that the best I can do is learn to let go, and to go with all my heart. Like sand running through my fingers, I can’t hold onto what could’ve been in both the past and future. The best I can do is hold my heart firmly, and act upon my reality now.

Wherever you go, there you are; I’m here in Vancouver now.
Wherever you go, go with all your heart; Working on it.

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