22. Make decisions and follow your heart ----------------------------------- Previous - Next - Contents

Tropical flower When I look back on my life so far I am happy and content about the course it has followed. In some very essential ways I am still the young boy of say 65 years ago (and that is good), forever very much a loner in a foreign world. But over the years I have got to know the world a bit better and developed more ways to connect to it.

First through my life partner, which was the main conduit and mooring buoy that kept me in touch with the world. Later, without her, I connected to it (and still do) through numerous small bonding routines, mostly to places, sometimes to friends or casual short time acquaintances. All these connections are like thin strings keeping me attached to the world, preventing me from floating away into the wider Universe, comfortable, content and secure within the bubble of my own mind.   (This is not a condition peculiar to me, I am sure all introverts feel something very similar to what I have described here.)

Now, don't think for a moment that this detached condition of mine resulted in a gentle and aimless wondering through the course of my life. On the contrary, my strong introvert nature, unhindered by opinions or attitudes of others, made it (I believe) much easier for me to make life changing decisions, than it would perhaps be for others more connected to the world.

As a consequence I look now both back and forward (!) to a much varied life, motivated and sustained by a strong forward moving force. Although I never consciously have thought in these terms, I believe my life is being driven forward by two very simple basic principles :

  1. Make decisions
    We enter this world into an environment and culture we have no control over. But from this fixed (and accidental) point onwards each individual will become the sum total of his (or her) decisions.
    Making decisions therefore means growing as a person. Avoiding decisions means standing still, remaining as one is.   Also always remember that (as I learned in the Army) decision making is a percentage game, you just can't be right all the time, but by following Rule II below I believe you will stay on course in the long run.

  2. Always follow your heart
    Meaning : do what you want to do, not what you ought to do according to others, customs or just materialistic gains. When you follow your heart you will always be motivated strongly to overcome hurdles on your way to reach your goal or destination. But following a path with you heart not in it, will sooner or later bog down into disappointment or fail.

Claus in Kalgoorlie, 1973 When thinking about what I have been writing here, my mind suddenly cast back to a conversation I had with my brother Claus a few years ago.
He stated that at certain stages in one's life one would arrive at a T-intersection where one had to decide whether to go left or to go right.
Thinking about what he had said it came as a total surprise to me that I never ever, even for a single moment, had felt that way myself. Throughout my life I have always felt that I was going straight ahead, "Immer Grade aus" as the Germans say. Placing this notion in the context of what I wrote above, it becomes now clear to me that this "straight ahead" feeling has been a direct consequence of following my heart. When you consistently do that there simply are no T-intersections. There may be side roads along the way, but you only give it a cursory glance while passing, without much reduction in speed.

A few months before I had completed my National service in Holland (in 1965) I received, out of the blue, and letter from Shell Head office with an invitation to come for a job interview. I was much flattered of course and spend I believe 2 or 3 days with them in The Hague being shown around their various Departments. I found it all mildly interesting but had no intention whatsoever to join them. I felt strongly I wanted to go to Australia (and so did my wife Antien) and at the time Shell had no projects there or any intention to start one up in the foreseeable future. (Their attitude changed of course dramatically when 2 years later the Bass Straight oil fields were discovered.) So I said "No thank you" to their offer because my heart was simple not in it, and we went to Australia instead. It was just a side road, never a serious consideration at all.

In fairness to my brother, I believe he too has always followed his heart. But perhaps he did not realise at the time that this was the common thread running through the course of his life.

The Rhine at Boppard So I really do consider my life a decisive, strong, straight line forward. When in Europe this summer I even suddenly felt and realised (as I have stated earlier in this blog) that I can postulate this straight life line back 400 years through the lives of my ancestors.
I feel deep inside strongly their sustained drive towards more freedom. First leaving Austria and Bavaria, then generation after generation moving North along the Rhine, arriving eventually in Holland, and now through me in Australia.
You may find this perhaps far fetched, but I know it is true, and it gives me a joy and satisfaction which is just immeasurable.

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