Falling Back on Your Heart
Once upon a time there was a Brazilian tennis player named Guga. An unparalleled, but self-effacing athlete— he won twenty tournaments, including three majors, and was a Davis Cup hero—- he was unusually humble and famously non-self-promoting.
When he won the French Open in 2001, he didn’t fall to his knees, kiss the ground, pump his fist in the air or even scream “YEEESSSSS!”
He did something very different.
He drew a heart on the red clay of the tennis court with his racket.
And then he fell back into it.
“The heart was for the people cheering,” he told Inside Tennis. “I felt I was in the heart of the 14,000 people.”
This week, I went to see a live performance of a musician I’ll call “My Artist”. (I’m not going to tell you whom My Artist is because this article is not about him–it’s about what he did.)
My Artist drew that heart and fell back into it. Not on the clay courts of Roland Garros, but at the Troubadour in Los Angeles.
My Artist doesn’t just perform. He doesn’t just write songs and sing them. He creates a shared group consciousness. He connects people. He spreads joy. He creates powerful, profound, connections.
He draws a heart—and then invites everyone in the audience to join him in falling back into it.
I’ve experienced this kind of connection at a public place where music is performed, most notably as a kid when I attended black churches such as Washington Temple Church of God in Christ in Brooklyn NY. Yes, I was Jewish, and yes, I was white. But the connection and love and heightened sensation and transcendence and…well, heart that I experienced in those places was unlike anything I had experienced before.
I think that connection—that heart– is the reason people go to church. I think it’s the reason people do drugs and go to raves. Yes, those two experiences are very different in content, but I’m not sure the basic human needs that drive people to them are all that different.
It’s the very human need to feel connected to something bigger than yourself, whether spiritual or secular. To connect with other humans, to let the guard rails down, to “lose” yourself, to put the ego to bed, to experience the power of surrender, and to just fall back, with gratitude, into the heart.
In fact, think for a minute about the expression “lose yourself”. What do you find when you “lose” your “self”? You lose your ego, your separateness. And what you find is your connection with something much bigger…humanity, the planet, love.
And while maybe you don’t regularly go to live music events, or even have your own version of My Artist, you probably have some place in your life—some circumstance—in which you can celebrate the love you do have to give, the love of, and for, the people you surround yourself with, and the gratitude you feel (hopefully) for the things in your life that are awesome.
Starting with just being alive.
That heart is a sacred space. Draw it for yourself.
And then– even if it’s only for a minute or two– fall back into it.
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