When I first moved to rural Hunan province as a volunteer teacher, I had just graduated from Boston University. I spoke no Chinese and knew little of the culture. My path was supposed to take me to New York to pursue the road I started as an intern the summer before at InStyle magazine, but my heart pointed in a different and quite inexplicable direction.
I faced the incredibly difficult decision of defying everything that was expected of me in favor of something only I knew to be true. My head and many others couldn’t understand, “Why are you doing this? It makes no sense,” but my heart just smiled quietly, “You know.”
I’m sure fellow travelers reading this have had similar experiences. You’ve gone somewhere for no ‘logical’ reason, but you knew you had to go, and I’d be willing to bet an incredible journey unfolded in strange and beautiful ways.
My decision to follow my heart forever changed my life. It opened me up to connect with people in ways I didn’t know were possible. When language, culture, and one’s story are stripped away, there are no more masks, identities, or accolades to hide behind. It’s simultaneously terrifying and incredibly freeing.
I fell in love with a local tai chi teacher who didn’t speak English. He looked at me 2 weeks after knowing me and said in broken English, “I know your heart.” I was taken back by his words at first and then saw, he did.
He taught me the Chinese word 心里话 xin li hua inner heart’s language. I soon realized that this language was universal and that we all have access to it. I noticed it in my students with how open and excited they were to learn about the world I came from. I saw it in my friends when we laughed while playing volleyball. None of it required actual words.
I’m currently writing a book called Heart Language, which is part travel memoir, part exploration of a new era for humanity. Heart language is everywhere. It’s on planes across the Atlantic. It’s in Panamanian jungles. It’s on a sailboat crossing the Sea of Cortez. And it has the power to change the world.
Travelers. Wanderlusters. Fellow explorers. We’re the new diplomats! Countries aren’t about borders and passports. They’re about the people. The culture. The language. The food. The experiences. The unexpected. Being alive!
Each of us are bridge builders. Whether you travel the world or travel your town. We all have access to heart language and to the power of truly connecting with others. As readers of my blog, 6 Months to Live, know, I’m fond of life experiments. What if you tried a life experiment today? The next person you meet, speak through your heart, and see what can happen…
* * * * *
Jacqueline Boone is a writer, explorer, and entrepreneur. Her deepest passion is connecting with people all over the world, sharing their stories, and helping people get clear about the unique gifts they bring to the world, so they can live their passion, be abundantly supported in doing so, and most importantly, make a difference. Her blog, 6 Months to Live began as a personal life experiment that started with the question, “What would you do if you had 6 months to live?” and has transformed into a life philosophy centered around living each day and following one’s dreams! To learn more about Jacqueline and her upcoming book, Heart Language, visit http://6monthstolive.me
Photo credit to: Vanessa Hellmann