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Quotes: Quiet Your Mind and Follow Your Heart

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I will not die an unlived life.

I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire.

I choose to inhabit my days to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible,

… to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise. ~Dawna Markova

If you’ve been reading this blog for long, you know that I love quotes! I’m always thrilled to find a small kernel of eternal truth that has been boiled down to just a few memorable words. That’s not a common skill and so finding a quote that truly moves you is a wonderful thing. I would go so far as to say that it can be life-changing and life-guiding tool. At least it has been that way for me.
The quote above is my all-time favorite quote and the one that has changed my life more than any other. For the next few Sundays I want to talk about it line-by-line and see if maybe you can’t find some value in it as well, but in today’s post I want to talk about how I use a quote to guide and change my life.
I am a person who has always lived in my head and compulsively overthinks everything. There is nothing wrong with being wise and thinking things through, but most of my life I’ve lived so much in my head that I lost all connection to my heart or my instincts. I believe that is true of many of us in modern society.

Are you living a balanced life? Do you follow your heart or your head?

Are you living a balanced life? Do you follow your heart or your head?

Each of us is born with basic instincts given to us by evolution, nature and God. We have them to lead and guide us into a long and successful life by helping us to avoid danger and finding the things that are good for us in life. But 10,000 years ago we abandoned our hunter-gather ways and adapted agriculture as a lifestyle. The result was the rise of civilization and cities and our near total disconnection with nature and our roots.
The problem is you can’t just walk away from millions of years of evolution and not expect there to be unexpected consequences. For all those millions of years of human, pre-human and primate evolution we were totally reliant on our:

  • Senses
  • Instincts
  • Connection with Each Other
  • Connection to Earth and Nature
  • Imagination and Creativity

I believe that the sum total of those things is an undefinable something that we commonly call our “heart” or “soul”; the thing that makes us Human Beings. We evolved over millions of years to have that “soul” dominate and control our lives–and that has NOT changed in the last 10,000 years of the development of civilization.
We still have that same heart and soul our ancestors took so long to evolve but most of us use it so little that it has atrophied and we’ve lost touch with it. I’m one of those people. I live so much in my head that my instincts, senses, heart and soul have withered and shriveled from lack of use. But humans aren’t intended to live by their intellect alone without the heart and soul. Our minds are too puny and limited to be adequate guides to a full and satisfying life.
Civilization has taken over guiding our lives for us and has set up rules and regulations for us to live by so they determine the quality of our lives and not we ourselves. As we try to live by our minds–which are controlled by society–the inevitable result is a miserable life.

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”- Commonly attributed to Albert Einstein

You may write in and tell me how great civilization and science is, but the facts tell a different story. The consequences of our choice to live in our head and the resulting complete disconnection to nature, heart and soul are rampant in society:

  • Depression (and prescriptions for anti-depressants) are at epidemic levels.
  • Alcoholism and drug addiction are rampant.
  • We are the safest people who ever lived, and yet most of us live in constant, neurotic fear.
  • Diseases caused by stress are killing us.
  • Suicide (especially among the young) is increasing.
  • Family and marriage is breaking down and we are becoming incredibly isolated and alienated from each other.

Many of us who avoid those tragedies are still living lives of quiet desperation, enduring life and not enjoying it.


A long time ago I made the decision I had no choice but to change my life. Life as I had been living it was no longer tolerable and it had to change or I wasn’t going to survive. I got involved in a program that gave me a specific plan and program to live my life by and the cornerstone of putting it in place was simple, short sayings that I was to live my life by. Because I was desperate for change, and I believed this program would work, I tried it. I started using these simple sayings to guide and direct my life.
When my mind went crazy and the committee in my head started to fight and argue and drive me crazy, I simply turned to a simple little saying and refused to listen to anything else my pea-brain had to say about it. After doing everything I could for a year to reject my brain and live by my heart and soul, I was a changed man. I was totally changed.
As a result, I developed these little sayings for myself that are now the underpinnings of my life:

  • I’m not smart enough to run my own life.
  • Every bad thing in my life came from me. Every good thing in my life came from a Higher Power.
  • I don’t know much, and most of what I think I know is wrong.
  • The more certain I am that I am right, the more likely that I am totally wrong.
  • I can be right, or I can be happy. I can rarely be both.

After many years of repeating those ideas to myself, I have come to believe at a deep level that I can’t trust myself or my thoughts; instead I try to trust the collective wisdom of the human race. That’s a lofty sounding idea, but how could I make it practical in my life? I decided to keep doing what had worked up till then and use timeless, proven quotes that spoke deeply to my heart. When I am unsure of my course, or which way to go, I pull out a trusted quote or an example of someone I have confidence in and follow them.
For example, the idea of jumping out of an airplane was planted in my mind when I read of President Bush skydiving on his 70th, 75th and 80th birthdays. Then when the day came that I was standing in hanger and I either signed up to jump or I didn’t, I pulled out this, my favorite quote:

“I Will Not Die An Unlived Life.”

This little quote says in a seven profound words a truth that many volumes of books have been written about (Elizabeth Kubler-Ross built a career on finally revealing this truth to civilized people who had lost it). It is a truth that I think is the single most important truth humans can have and yet most modern people refuse to face. With this quote ringing in my ears, I signed up to return the next day and jump out of an airplane.
I don’t know what quotes you should use, only you can decide that, but I do believe that your life will be improved if you would find some quotes that inspire, motivate and empower you to a fuller life. I recommend this quote to each of you, and in the next few posts we’ll explore it’s powerful meaning together.

I will not die an unlived life.

I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire.

I choose to inhabit my days to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible,

… to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise. ~Dawna Markova



  1. Gennifer

    My yoga teacher training group just did a wisdom story circle last week. We all sat in a circle and then each of us presented a quote or song lyrics or a short passage from a book that really resonated with us. You would have loved it, Bob! I got so many great quotes from that circle. Maybe it’s something we could do at the RTR this winter…

    • Bob

      That’s a good idea Gennifer! I’ll see if we can fit in.

  2. Myddy

    I absolutely love this post- I believe the universe gives you whatever you tell it to. If you force yourself to have a new mindset, your life will change according to your mindset. Great post!

    • Bob

      Thanks Myddy!

  3. openspaceman

    Ahhh. The delicate balance. Using fear for what it was intended for “instinctively” – self preservation as opposed to inaction caused by over thinking and hyper-analyzing what could go wrong.
    *I have so much to unlearn.
    Unrelated – Unless any of your readers are gonna deal with a Wisconsin
    winter. My van insulation job handled 18° / wind chill 11° last night. I fired up Mr. Buddy @10pm for 15 mins. got it up to 68° and it was a crisp 58° @ 6am. I hung a couple moving blankets up on hooks at the rear and side doors…those are the weak spots. You can get the blankets and tarp clips at HomeDepot. Now if I can just save up enough gas $ to go to Alaska.

    • Bob

      openspaceman, that is outstanding performance! If it was 40 warmer than the outside air that is a great job! I usually only get 20 degrees so you did a better job. Great tip on the moving blanket!
      Save that gas money, we are going to have an incredible trip to Alaska next year, I’d love to have you join us!

  4. CAE

    I follow this ideal most of the time. But, I know people with lots of responsibility…to their family, co-workers, etc. That can’t just drop whatever they’re doing and follow their heart. They have to provide for others and this often involves sacrifice on their part. I’m not one of these people, but I think the world needs them.

    • m.a.

      me, too, CAE. It’s a different path with heart. And sometimes we juggle both.

      • Bob

        m.a. I think you’re right, every path is enhanced when you include heart. There doesn’t have to be a conflict between the heart and mind. In fact I believe decision-making can only be improved by tempering it with natural wisdom.

    • Bob

      CAE, I don’t think it is an either-or requirement. There are actually quite a few books written to business people about following their instincts. While I think everyone should make as much connection with nature that they possibly can, if their circumstances don’t allow that, they will still benefit by reconnecting with their inner naturalness.

  5. Dan

    I think you are right. You do have to use both organs. The brain and the heart. If you don’t satisfy your need to be challenged, your brain will wilt, while if you starve your heart it will also wither.
    Some people soar working at a challenging job in an office. It used to be that companies treated employees respectfully, especially for employees with responsible positions. But now companies are working as hard as possible to disrespect employees. Yet for some, they love the work so much that it can overcome this disrespectful context.
    But even these people will often have to reach out to hobbies to achieve fulfillment. I remember a test technician who used to be very good at his job. On his morning and afternoon breaks, he’d go over to the machine shop, and would use the tools there to fabricate aircraft parts. He finally completed his long-EZ airplane, and he’s been flying that on weekends ever since. Took him about 4 years of evenings and weekends to completed the aircraft though.
    The modern workplace is not any fun. The modern management has drained every drop of goodwill and happiness out of the workplace. HR specialists work very hard to make sure that nobody has “fun” at work unfortunately.
    Combine that with the need to produce an income, it makes it very tempting to just drop out of the “normal” work-a-day world, where you punch the clock in a unfulfilling job, and “turn in your hours for a handful of dimes” as Jim Morrison would say in his song.
    But of course if everybody did that then society would crumble. maybe it deserves to crumble. Maybe that is the self correcting method for our society. When companies can no longer hire people to grind their axes, then would have to work harder to create an environment conducive to have happy workers.
    I think everybody must find their own path.
    You certainly have found yours, and I hope that it makes you happy. You seem like a giving person, and I think the way you give to your community is very generous. It’s been said that it’s better to give than to receive. I think your work must be very fulfilling. I hope it is. Best regards, Dan

    • Bob

      Dan, I have to agree totally, that the work-place is becoming more and more adversarial with little or no thought to the employee. The scary thing is that as the economy changes, it will probably only get worse and worse.
      Dropping out has always had a huge appeal to me but at this point in my life it is an absolute necessity. The mind-numbing, soul-sucking workplace is toxic to my mental, emotional and physical health.
      My life makes me very happy!

  6. Seva Simran Singh

    I loved this blog post. I struggle with this everyday. I spent most of my life living in my head and it damn near killed me. I’ve been nurturing my heart now for some time and it is beginning to lead me in a direction that brings to the surface a great deal of fear of the unknown. I’ve gone back into my head to look at this fear closer, of course, and have come up with one thing. I am simply afraid of letting go and living in a way that I am unfamiliar with.
    Oh sure, I use the excuse that, “I have a family to worry about! How would I support them?” Or another is, “Would my family still accept me if I let go?” There is a whole rational of questions but none of them have any real answers and are, by design, just allowing me to procrastinate about a decision that would change my life forever.
    I have lived a full life! I’ve been to Antarctica; even slept outside there. I’ve drank water from the longest running river on that continent. I’ve lived on a 1/2 by 4 mile island in the Pacific for a year. I’ve ridden horse over hundreds of miles of prairie in the west; I have sat on the same mesa’s the Native Americans sat on watching for buffalo herds while staying warm by the fires making arrowheads(you can still see the signs). For some reason This last one is a big one for me. To just let go . . . .
    Thanks Bob

    • Bob

      Seva, you are a very brave man to even begin such a difficult journey into your own heart. It isn’t an easy trip and the way is hard. Don’t be discouraged by set-backs along the way. I can promise you that if I had any choice when I began, I would have turned back. But I had hit my bottom, the bridges were burned and it was go forward or …. I don’t know what. Not making the leap into the unknown was simply not an option open to me.
      But chances are that you do have options, you can just keep living like you have been living, even if it is isn’t what you want. If I could tell you any one thing, it is that you don’t have to take one huge leap of faith into the unknown. Very few people can do that. Instead I encourage you to take baby steps, look for small ways you can change your life now. Making small changes successfully will lead to more changes. It’s worked for you so far, you are in the process of changing.
      If you feel a calling to a mobile life, I’ve given you lots of ideas of small changes you can start making now that will move you towards that. Take a few of them and start working on them.
      Your family comes first, and you have to take care of them. Maybe you can start making small steps with them like camping or taking trips together. Make a mobile life appealing and fun and maybe they will come around.
      I wish you all the best!

  7. Walt

    I see the blog is back. Had no idea. I had saved an older post so that I could check from time to time. On a whim, I typed in and here you are. (I had missed three posts in the meantime.) I see, though, that the “Contact Me” link still brings up a work in progress page, hence my post here.
    On the old blog, I was able to subscribe and received e-mail notifications when a new post was available. Will that be possible with the new site? I don’t always remember to check the various web sites I follow, but I always remember to check my e-mail. Thanks.

    • Bob

      Hi Walt, the transition to the new sites has taken loner than I anticipated, but please be patient, eventually it will get done. The forum has taken a huge amount of time and slowed everything else down.
      Yes, there will be an email notification when it is all done. I’m just like you, I depend on them to keep me up-to-date so there is no doubt I will have that.
      Hang in there, it will get done!

  8. Peggy

    Aha! Walt just asked the question I was going to ask. 🙂
    Another insightful, poetic post, Bob. You always get me thinking. I’m self-employed and I totally enjoy what I do (photography and other art-making) but sometimes I fear that having to earn an income at it is taking over my life. I’ve turned into something of a workaholic just to get by, although my needs aren’t great by any means. I thoroughly enjoy the creative side of what I do, but I also have to do a lot of things I don’t really enjoy just to earn the $$. I’m getting lazier about it all these days and just feel like wandering off sometimes.
    Have you read The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle? I’m reading it now, after watching a series of YouTube videos of his workshops about his book, “A New Earth”. The books and videos really helped me to get through some tough stuff going on in my life this year.

    • DougB

      Peggy, while you’re having to struggle with the demotivating, greasy underbelly of a creative business, you might want to take a sort through a site called The Art of Non-Conformity at The travel stuff may not apply, but some of it also deals with the inherent conflicts of creatives doing business. Just an FYI that I find motivational.

      • Peggy

        Thanks for the suggestion, Doug. I’ve read quite a lot of Chris’s work but could probably use a re-read of some of it. I always start to feel a little burned-out at this time of year after selling my work at craft fairs every weekend from April-December. I’m working on getting to the point where I won’t need to rely on craft fairs so much and do more online business…it’s getting there! No matter what though, it’s a lot of work! Luckily I enjoy what I do.

    • Bob

      Peggy, thanks for your kind words! You’re very fortunate to have a job that involves some creativity and you enjoy, so many of us didn’t even have that. But I can relate to how you feel, you aren’t free when your life is dominated by the dollar. But, let’s face it, you have to have some money in order to live.
      My best suggestion is to find a happy medium. Do everything you possibly can to reduce your living expenses to their absolute minimum. To me that means moving into a van and getting rid of all your stuff. But everyone has their own comfort level and if that is outside yours, find other ways reduce all your expenses you can. Providing a roof over your head is most of ours biggest expense so if you can reduce it to the smallest possible size and expense, that will help a lot, plus it will force you to get rid of a bunch of your stuff and not allow you to buy much more.
      The less money you need to live, the freer you are to live your own life and be happy.
      I have read that book by Tolle and it is wonderful. I consider the teachings of Zen as essential to my well-being. I rely on them every day!

      • Peggy

        I hear you, Bob! I have quite a small place but I’d love to travel more and…I don’t know if I’m ready to live full-time in a van but I sure enjoy my getaways. Anyway, it seems change is in the wind so we shall see…

        • Bob

          Peggy, one things us tumbleweeds love, it’s change in the wind!

  9. Atli

    Hi Bob!
    I have been enjoying your site for a couple of years now and I always find it a great source of inspiration! I just came back from a two month long bicycle tour (I bicycled from Vancouver, Canada to Borrego Springs, CA) and bought my first van for vandwelling yesterday!
    I’m 33, but I’ve spent the first 30 years of my life not being my own person and always trying to do whatever it is I thought would make my family happy. Doing what I thought would make others happy instead of what would make myself happy….well obviously that’s a recipe for an unsatisfying life! A few years ago I started a crazy journey to live my life on my own terms and made some serious mistakes along the way, but I know I’m on the right path. Life shouldn’t be about working for 35 years at a job you don’t like no matter how much it pays. Sometimes I’m hit with overpowering feelings of guilt for living my life the way I want to, which is why I found myself on this page of your site this morning. It made me feel better and reassured me that I’m doing the right thing.
    I can’t wait to get my van interior built in the next couple of weeks and I’d love to one day meet you and other vandwellers at the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous. Thanks for your amazing blog! Also, I’m sure you’ve seen it already, but if you haven’t there are some beautiful photos of vandwelling at

  10. Walt

    I always enjoy reading this blog and the comments that come with it. I’d like to think that if I hadn’t married or if things hadn’t worked out that I would be out there. If it weren’t for my wife and son, I certainly wouldn’t still be working at jobs I don’t really enjoy that much.
    In less than three weeks, I will turn 57, and I can’t think of much that I’ve done in my life that was memorable. The thought of working another five to ten years truly demoralizes me sometimes. Reading your blog, Bob, and that of RVSue, gives me ideas of things I could do and places I would love to go. Hopefully I will still be healthy enough to do that when the time finally comes. in the meantime, thank you for continuing to inspire and encourage fellow and would-be fellow travelers.

    • Bob

      Walt, can you start taking steps now to get ready? They don’t have to be big, just small changes to make your life more what you want it to be.

      • Walt

        That’s the $64 question, isn’t it. We go out whenever we can, but that isn’t often enough. Because we have the future of a special needs teenager to think about, it feels like I am not as free as I might otherwise be. Excuses, perhaps, but knowing what it means to not have a father around while I grew up, I take preparing for my son’s future seriously, especially since I come up short as a father in many ways.
        However, I remain convinced I will be out there one day. It is what keeps me getting up every morning.

        • Bob

          Walt, being a devoted father is nothing to be ashamed of, in fact is the greatest sign of man-hood of all. After my divorce I lived in a van in Anchorage, Ak for 6 years and stayed close to my kids. That is the most important thing a human can do!!
          But the year my youngest turned 18 I took early retirement and left. With a special needs child your options aren’t as easy as mine, but blood is more important than anything else! I admire your decision to put him/her first!

  11. Elizabeth

    I was just saying to my husband, “i wonder where my buddy Bob’s been,” and here you are! I’ll be patient with the email notices and just keep checking back. I do have a suggestion as you’re redoing things……..when you have a link to another blog or site, have it open in a new tab. That makes it easier for the reader to continue reading your article without having to click the back button numerous times. Sometimes I like to click the site so I can look at it later, but it takes me away. : (
    I look forward to the Sunday Sermon, as i love your philosophical musings. Glad you’re still here and OK. Your buddy, Elizabeth

    • Bob

      Elizabeth, with the sites messed up and the blog readership way down, I’ve reduced my r=writing schedule. Hopefully it will all get back to normal soon.
      I agree totally, I hate when it opens in the same tab. I’ll see if I can fix that.

    • Bob

      Calvin, it really does agree totally with and confirm my thinking!!

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