Beyond The Surface: The Realm Of The Heart

Last week I received a hand-written letter from a friend. She wrote of her struggles opening up to people. She continued on, revealing a difficult childhood in a family that mistreated her.

I was touched she showed me this side of her.

I am honored if I am able to play a part in her becoming more free.

I am struck by this richness in humanity beyond that which I ordinarily perceive…


I have my colleagues; I have my favorite celebrities (and my least favorite ones); there are the countless strangers about me; there are the writers I read; there’s the news; there are those the news is about. Passively acknowledging all these competitors as I go about my days, I understand the rules of this game of life is to earn the job, to be better, to purchase the material goods, to be right, to vacation to the island. Even when I look past all this, recognizing the accomplishments of a goal-driven business founder or an inspired performer, I still get caught up in determining value by outward gains.

Then I get this letter from my friend.

Then I get an email from an acquaintance opening up to me about her health concerns.

Then I get to listen to my aging grandfather over Thanksgiving, hearing the widower speak about his love for his children and how he questions his worth as a helpless old man.

There’s something bigger beyond the surface of our lives.

This message has been given a hundred different ways:

The Truman Show (Paramount pictures)
The Truman Show (Paramount pictures)

I knew a 40-year-old mission worker in Minneapolis. He told me that behind the scenes of what we see — all the people walking and working and going about their lives — is a spiritual war. Forces of good vs. evil are in play, he said, affecting the energy of certain neighborhoods and influencing peoples’ behavior. Him explaining this to me reminded me of The Matrix, when Morpheus opens up Neo’s eyes to that story’s monumental reality outside of most people’s awareness — that the world is one, big computer program.

Perhaps not as epic — but definitely closer to the heart — is the version of this “beyond the surface” dynamic that struck me this past week:

photo by Anna Dziubinska
photo by Anna Dziubinska

Within the mass of humanity we anonymize — and within the famous people we characterize — are individual beating hearts full of raw love, insecurity, desire, doubt, joy…

Becoming aware this realm, beyond all the visible markers of “winning,” I see that all people are on the same plane. And it isn’t just others who have this reality within. It’s myself (and you) as well. Behind the facade we present to the world — and so sometimes become fooled into believing is who we really are — is that same beating heart.

Tapping into it, seeing beyond the surface, I am then reminded of a question a mentor likes to ask me: “What is success, Brandon?”

Maybe it’s not starting that successful company after all.

Maybe it’s not winning that award or “making it.”

Maybe it’s being available to listen to an old man speak and being on the receiving end of a letter from a friend.

What say you?