Bookmark and Share

To Thine Own Self

Direct Answers - Column for the week of December 6, 2004

Someone gave me a bit of advice, and I'm doing my best to get my head wrapped around it, trying to understand and comprehend and translate it into my own life. What does it mean to "follow your own heart"?


Lisa, Dante's "Divine Comedy" opens with the author saying, "Midway in the journey of our life, I found myself in a dark wood, for the straightforward path had been lost." That is how many people feel. It is as if they are searching for an answer when they don't know the question.

In your quiet moments, with no concern for anyone but yourself, what are your dreams? Your desires? What are your hobbies? Your interests? What did you like to do when you were young? If someone gave you a lot of money, what would you do? Often what you would do doesn't take money, but if you had money, you would feel the freedom--the unburdening--to do it.

Most of us have a talent for complicating the obvious. The amoeba, a one cell organism, has a lesson for us all. It moves toward and embraces what it authentically needs, and it moves away from the uncongenial. That is all we need to do in life, and it applies to everything--people, jobs, leisure activities, and studies.

This method is extremely simple. It is so simple people don't realize how powerful it is. In the course of time, it can create the kind of life we want. Is it sometimes wasteful? Yes, sometimes we follow false trails. Will we sometimes feel our life is stalled? Yes, but at a deeper level we are moving forward.

People who follow this simple technique, in time, feel as if their lives were guided by an unseen hand. They gain a sense of destiny. What once seemed like random events, they know occurred for a purpose. They end up living a life which fulfills them.

Wayne & Tamara

I Love Lucy

My mother is making dinner for the holidays, and she invited my mother-in-law who is undergoing chemotherapy. My mother-in-law is very upbeat about her condition, but she constantly talks about the details of her illness.

The problem is this. My dad died from cancer 10 years ago. He and mother were very private about his illness and never brought it up with company unless someone asked. Mother was devastated by his death and has a hard time listening to other people's cancer stories.

My mother told me she is going to call my mother-in-law and tell her a guest, who will be at the dinner, had cancer before and does not want to talk about cancer or have it discussed. That isn't true, but mom said the guest will play along.

I feel uncomfortable with this. I told my mother, but she said it's her dinner and she is going to do it. I always treat my mother-in-law as a second mother, but my mother and my mother-in-law have a standoffish relationship. Since my mother is making an issue of this, it seems to be my problem, or is it?


Jennifer, a sonnet by Edna St. Vincent Millay contains the lines, "There are a hundred places where I fear to go,--so with his memory they brim." That is where your mother is. But your mother-in-law is, as another poet said, raging against the dying of the light.

Your mother's scheme reminds us of the sitcom "I Love Lucy." Each episode involved a ruse, and when the ruse was discovered, all was forgiven. In real life subterfuges blow up and cause bad feelings. The guest's "cancer" may be all your mother-in-law needs to helpfully suggest support groups, books, and treatments.

The real problem is two mothers who don't get along. Go to the dinner, but don't be a party to this ruse.

Wayne & Tamara

About The Author

Authors and columnists Wayne and Tamara Mitchell can be reached at

Send letters to: Direct Answers, PO Box 964, Springfield, MO 65801 or email:

© Athifea Distribution LLC - 2013