“There it goes again!” I said to Laura. I was justifiably panicked that my heart had stopped yet again.
Several years ago, while in my early thirties, my heart suddenly began behaving strangely. Every forty-five seconds I felt like my heart would stop. As I sat and waited in consuming anticipation, it would then restart with a big thump in my chest, which also felt like someone was standing on it.
To my relief, after being monitored for several days, I learned I had Premature Ventricular Contractions (PVC). “All of us have a natural pacemaker in your hearts that fire rhythmically to keep them beating,” the cardiologist said. “Your pacemaker occasionally fires two rapid beats. Then, since it is ahead one beat, it sits inactive, waiting to get back on rhythm.” As my heart waited to pump again, it filled with more blood than usual. Then the next beat emptied the overfilled chamber—hence that big thud in my chest.
“Over half of the world has these, you know. I do, too,” the cardiologist said. “But only some have enough bodily awareness to feel them. And they’re harmless. Just come back for annual checkups.” Needless to say, I was relieved.
Nonetheless, it has still been disquieting and irritating to know my heart just stops at random. “If PVCs are harmless, then why am I cursed to have to feel them?” I’d ask myself. They are uncomfortable and sometimes terrifying when the pause is longer than usual.
Five years after my cardiologist visit, I had a restless heart of a different kind. Laura and I took a radical sabbatical to live in the remote jungles of Costa Rica’s South Pacific Ballena Coast, where the nearest traffic light was over an hour away by car. Our jobs and daily routine back home had become poisonous, and something almost inexplicable to this day was drawing us there. So we decided to take the leap with no jobs or acquaintances in Costa Rica.
We felt so much guilt for what we were leaving behind to start our lives over. Nothing made sense except our guts—we were on this autopilot mission devoid of all logic—until now, six years later, when we realize how that experience molded us into people who wake up every morning thinking, “How can I explore, discover, and fill my day with excitement?” Now we’ve forged a location-independent lifestyle on our own terms and are inspirational authors and speakers on taking Life Leaps.
A few weeks ago, I ran into a friend on the street. I asked him why he had vanished for a while. His explanation: “I had these PVCs that got out of hand. The doctor said it was serious and installed a pacemaker right away.” I immediately became glad that I feel my PVCs. I might, after all, have a leg up on someone who can’t.
Every day, we talk to people in the same “rutty” and guilt-filled situation we were in before leaving for Costa Rica. Like us, they compare themselves to those less fortunate, beating themselves up for the criminality of thanklessness. Make no mistake. Being categorically thankless is indeed criminal and unhealthy, but living a passive life with a savagely restless heart is equally or more damaging. Those of us going to bed every night vowing that things will change only to play the same movie again the next day have an enchanting gift—intuition—much like my perception of the PVCs.
Just like all of us have learned not to put our hands on glowing stoves or drink solutions with a foul smell, we all have gone through a learning process vis-à-vis our life circumstances, teaching us what we should avoid. Many of us mislabel it as ingratitude or blind grumbling because the implications of not following intuition are less evident than the burn of a glowing stove coil.
Yet, ignoring the blessing of intuition has life-long implications. Whether we have only one life to live is up for debate, but there is no tangible evidence to the contrary. If your heart is more than a little bit restless, begin to embrace your gift that others don’t have, and begin plans to act on its signals. In fact, close your eyes right now and imagine the first three things you would do as steps to resolve the incongruence between your daily actions and your inner compass.
Now that you have opened your eyes, read these questions that you—like so many others—often belabor in the same situation:
- How will I survive such a big change?
- How can I shake things up so much and still tend to my loved ones, emotionally and financially?
- What happens if I fail?
These questions and more are the reason for this blog. You can visit the Radical Sabbatical blog regularly to explore the techniques and inspirations necessary to:
- Make the decision to move forward on a big Life Leap.
- Prepare for it, and
- Enjoy it.
We are extremely excited to join you in beginning to honor and act on your intuition. As you do, we anxiously await the many magical stories that will doubtlessly unfold.
As we always like to say, “There’s a party on the other side. We look forward to seeing you there.”