On January 1, 2012 a lost soul held a gun to my head.
This is the first time I'm writing about it.
It happened in Central America, the place where I'd been living for almost two years the day it happened. I'm heading to Central America for vacation next week, and my friends warn me to be careful.
I can’t remember the face of the guy who pulled the gun. I don’t remember ever seeing his face when it happened. I don’t remember thinking.
I just ducked and ran and waited to hear the gun shot.
That experience has marked my life. It's affected the way I interact with people and situations. Sometimes, my heart flutters as it did that day. Sometimes, I question people before I get to know them. Sometimes, I feel vulnerable when I am alone.
What that experience did not do is harden my heart.
I've been paying special attention to my heart in recent years. Cultivating love and compassion for myself and others became a daily routine as a Peace Corps Volunteer.
In life, we will undoubtedly face many challenges. Most will catch us by surprise. The lost soul with the gun in Central America was one of these challenges. But I'm going back to Central America to visit. And I'm going back with love.
I'm going back a centered being. I'm going back with faith, with a deep respect for that land, and with understanding.
There are many reasons my head could give my heart as to why I shouldn't go back. There are many theories it could create about why to be angry, or imbalanced or scared.
Instead, I ask myself, how does it serve me?
The challenge was a blunt awakening that life is only present in this moment. My head serves me to think clear about what I can do now. It helps me know what I have control over to be safe, happy and healthy. It allows me to be rational with my fears.
So I go forward. And when I do, I lead with my heart. I continue to do what I love and live with compassion.
Because I learned something so beautiful in that moment of consciousness. I learned not to let life harden my heart. I learned to follow my heart while bringing my head with me. And I learned to be grateful for my heart and all the moments it beats for you.