What Breaks Your Heart?

November 1, 2010 — Leave A Comment

I share with you today two stories of heartbreak…not of bitterness and despair, but the beautiful kind of heartbreak, the kind that brings your soul painfully to life and, through the passion it awakens in you, inevitably changes the world. I encountered both of these stories in the same week, and was struck by the simple humanness of their unfolding–a single person, encountering a need in the world that breaks her heart on a level so deep that she cannot not take action to resolve it– and the extraordinary uniqueness of each young woman’s courageous response to the need they encounter.

“It costs so much to be a full human being that there are very few who have the Love and the courage to pay the price. One has to abandon altogether the search for security and reach out to the risks of living with both arms. One has to embrace life.” ~ Morris West


Watching these stories reminded me that a rich, full life isn’t just about cultivating joy, pleasure and ease. It’s also about the willingness to fully engage with pain–both your own and that of others. It’s about knowing, in a very personal and visceral way, what breaks your heart. I do not mean what merely “upsets” you or what you think you ought to be upset about. I mean, that specific injustice in the world, that travesty, that kind of suffering that, when you encounter it, you are undone by it. You are incensed by the audacity of its presence. In fact, its very existence changes you forever, because once you see it you can never go back to life the way it was. You cannot forget it, and you cannot suffer it to continue unchallenged. This kind of heartbreak I am talking about compels you to action. And if you don’t know yet what breaks your heart in that way, then you are not yet fully your true self.

So…What breaks your heart?

Michael Warden

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  1. 1 of 5 Essentials for Change: You Need Anger | Michael Warden, Leadership Coach - March 15, 2012

    […] (And by the way, if you prefer not to call that “anger,” and would rather call it heartbreak or passion or some other word, that’s fine. Whatever you call that emotion that leads you to […]

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