A letter to the broken-hearted (Ricky Weekly #91)
This is where I share 3 things every week with my friends and anyone else interested.
A picture from my life:
I’m in San Fran…errr Lisbon, Portugal this week visiting friends I haven’t seen in ages. Here they are, showing me the Golden Gate Bridge (of Lisbon). We’re driving an hour north to visit wine country later this week. It’s like I never left SF!
A thing on my mind:
There are two kinds of people — the full-hearted and the broken-hearted. Well, I can’t confirm if the first kind exists, maybe relatively, but I’ve definitely felt their presence. Full-hearted people live life with agency. They start with what they want and exert on to the world. They go inwards-and-out. Broken-hearted people walk around looking for missing pieces of their heart. They interact with the world with fixing their broken heart as the primary agenda. Will you love me? Do I belong? Show me I’m okay? They act outwards-in. Because they don’t know where the missing pieces are, they take in the world and react with little agency or control.
I’m one of those broken-hearted people and I’ve been on a journey to re-build my agency. I know my tendencies. I pick up on every breath, twitch, gaze when I interact with people, looking subconsciously for their approval that I am okay. I try not to act on them by dulling my senses. I’ve developed a confident demeanor, a sense of humor, and a practiced vulnerability, all to not let my broken heart take over and fill it with things that look like they help but actually don’t.
I’m curious about full-hearted people. One of them once told me that his confidence comes from knowing that he will be okay at the end of the day. Simple idea, but it frustrated me to no end that I can’t say the same for myself. If it’s a matter of ability, I’ve survived it all, even thrived some. If it’s resources, I’ve got enough and I am extremely resourceful. But being okay is not about any of that. It’s about feeling okay. That’s why I was moved enough to write about finding a home in Taiwan a few issues ago, because part of feeling okay is knowing you have unconditional love:
…I realized I’ve never felt like I had a “home,” defined as a place where I know I have people who love and support me unconditionally. The good news is that there is a place like that in Taiwan, IF I choose to let it be home for me.
A huge number of things I’ve done in life were for the purpose of finding the missing pieces of my heart, only to learn that I’m not going to find them no matter how hard I try. For example, I’ve spent time every year since I was 18 reconnecting with my mom to make up for her absence growing up, and every year, I learn that what is lost is lost. It comes out in small ways, like how she stopped calling me by the nickname I had as a kid, so I can only hear that familiar sound in my memory. Life is a one way street.
Kintsugi is a Japanese art form that takes broken items and repairs them with gold-dusted laquer. The idea is that instead of hiding the fact that the item was once broken like you would in a regular restoration, the laquer not only holds the pieces back together stronger than it ever was, it shows off the gold color to represent the beauty in having survived. I love the idea, but I think it’s wrong if you have to find the missing pieces.
The bad news is the missing pieces of your heart are missing forever. The good news is they are missing forever and you are free to ask yourself what you actually love, and let those things be the new pieces to complete a new heart. The challenge is you miss your old heart so dearly. You just want to go back to when you felt whole. You might not even know what you love because you’ve never had enough agency to let yourself explore that question. You’re afraid. But you’ll find them, and when you do, try as hard as you can to let those things love you, too. Let them be a part of your new heart.
I have a relationship with my mom today that’s different from what I was looking for, but it’s meaningful. I’ve built a “home” of amazing friends around the world. I’ve discovered my love for building companies. These are all things that I want to incorporate in completing my new heart, and I’m learning to accept and love this new heart as much and even more than my original heart.
A piece of content I recommend:
Comedian Atsuko Okatsuka jokes about being “kidnapped” by her grandmother to America when she was a kid, and goes on a quest to find out from her family the story about why she had to leave Japan and her father to come to America against her wish. Found it interesting because of the parallels to my upbringing.
Giving you one more food for thought as you listen to this episode. I have a theory about immigrants that basically goes…if you are fleeing some f’ed up macro situation like political persecution, war, crime or just a generally poor country, then you fit the immigrant narrative we often talk about here in the US. But if you immigrate from a developed, stable country where life is pretty good for most people, then either you are extremely ambitious, or it was you who f’ed up and you are running away from some micro situation you got yourself in. In that case, our immigrant narrative, where sacrifices were made and hardships were experienced for the betterment of the next generation, doesn’t really apply.