Janet Meinke-Lau
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Art and Surf Blog

Conversations around the process of creating and being an artist and surfer.

All paths lead nowhere

Anything is one of a million paths. Therefore you must always keep in mind that a path is only a path; if you feel you should not follow it, you must not stay with it under any conditions. To have such clarity you must lead a disciplined life. Only then will you know that any path is only a path and there is no affront, to oneself or to others, in dropping it if that is what your heart tells you to do. But your decision to keep on the path or to leave it must be free of fear or ambition. I warn you. Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary.
This question is one that only a very old man asks. Does this path have a heart? All paths are the same: they lead nowhere. They are paths going through the bush, or into the bush. In my own life I could say I have traversed long long paths, but I am not anywhere. Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn’t, it is of no use. Both paths lead nowhere; but one has a heart, the other doesn’t. One makes for a joyful journey; as long as you follow it, you are one with it. The other will make you curse your life. One makes you strong; the other weakens you.
Before you embark on any path ask the question: Does this path have a heart? If the answer is no, you will know it, and then you must choose another path. The trouble is nobody asks the question; and when a man finally realizes that he has taken a path without a heart, the path is ready to kill him. At that point very few men can stop to deliberate, and leave the path. A path without a heart is never enjoyable. You have to work hard even to take it. On the other hand, a path with heart is easy; it does not make you work at liking it.
— Carlos Castaneda, The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge

Does this path have a heart? Do you find your flow in what you do?

I told Chris Zorn, that art is such a gift to me – it helps me to better appreciate the world we live in, and connect to people and nature and all beings and things. But I’m not sure if art is my gift to the world. Having moved around a lot and done many different things in my life, I’ve never been sure or confident about what my gift is.

Chris responded, and I can’t even describe how big of an impact his gentle guidance made on me, that my greatest gift, what I have in my basket to offer, is just me being me. And if art comes out of that, great. And if it doesn’t, that’s OK too.

While I didn’t consciously ask myself, “does this path have a heart?” – I suppose in some way I did. And I always have (when I left finance and NYC, when I left the Philippines, when I decided to stay in Hawaii.) The path I am on right now – with art, surf, friends, community, love, and public service – well, those who know me tell me my heart is radiating out of my presence, that this mind space, my soul place, is here, where I am now. This is confirmation that I am in the right place, on the right path. And if art has something to do with it, then of course I’m going to keep drawing and painting!