Sunday, August 28, 2016

Nothing But Heart

Nothing But Heart

My heart is the strongest organ I have; both literally and physically. Don't get me wrong, I'm a thinker. Come to think of it I think too damn much. I over analyze things sometimes. Or, as I told a friend recently, I will flog a dead horse. I will continue to flog it, even after the horse has been removed, and placed in its grave. I think I do that because when something bothers me, it really bothers me until is resolved. I like a sense of resolution to conflicts and other problems that occur in life. I don't like loose ends or ambiguity. I have to know, and I have to know above all else.

But I'm not all brain games. While I enjoy contemplating life, the universe, and everything, I know when to switch from brain to heart mode. As an example I've often said, “Writing is an emotional exercise, not an intellectual one.” The intellect part comes when you're fixing things up to look presentable to readers. If the heart isn't there, the brain won't care. You can have a body without a soul. But you can't make that body walk, or talk. There needs to be an essence, a divine spark that keeps things in motion. It's from this acknowledgment of the soul that we connect. That same connection can be brought about by the heart.

In my life I have made all sorts of decisions based on what my heart told me. I have traveled thousands of miles to be with people I love. I have moved cross country, and taken expensive taxi rides, just to be with those I care about. There is nothing I wouldn't do for those that are in my heart. Its chambers are boundless, and its beat is strong.

I give love freely, and without thought of a reward. I give love to those near and far. I give it often, and will give it abundantly. Sometimes I wonder if I give it too much. Is there such a thing as too much love? I don't know. I think of times in my life when I've drawn close to people; especially women I've dated, and wondered if I gave them too much. I won't smother anyone, ever. I've been on the receiving end of that, and I know it doesn't feel right. What I'm talking about I hug too much? Kiss too much? Compliment too much? Say too much? Do too much?

I don't know. The other person has to tell me. The problem is, they usually don't say anything. They'd rather run for the hills, instead of trying to fix things. I'd rather fix things. None of us are perfect. When I have a problem in a relationship, I want to work it, and resolve it. Even if that means beating the dead horse after its been moved. I'm mindful of that, so it's something I try not to do. I also try not to rush things. My usual reaction is to try and fix things immediately. Some times there needs to be breathing room first. I'm learning that lesson again.

So what does the heart give me?

Well, I'm more prone to heartache. My heart is easily broken. Once it is, I want to mend it as soon as possible. Unfortunately, it doesn't work like that. Time is needed, as the heart heals on its own time frame.
My heart has guided me to some amazing people and places. I don't regret that. It's also guided me to those who have hurt me.
My heart allows me to be me. I'm a romantic, who nothing more than to spend a day or an evening with someone that means the world to me. I then wish to see that world with them, and share all it has to offer.

One of my key motivators in life is the need to be loved. I also need to give love. While we're all aware of that cliché “You can't be loved unless you love yourself,” I'm not about cliches. I'm also annoyed any time I hear that phrase, because it's patronizing. It's also bit narcissistic. Respect yourself, yes! However, love comes to us from an external source. The love we give comes out of us from within. The love we receive, that validates us, comes from without. As Julie, my therapist would say, “Let me be your mirror. Let me reflect who you are.”

People are the mirrors that let us know how we are doing, and what we are doing. Some people can't accept that. I used to work with a guy that was incredibly sexist and offensive. He didn't see what was so offensive about calling women the “b-word” and the “c-word,” as he didn't want to accept responsibility. People like that can't see the wrong they do to others. That's another discussion entirely, one for another blog post.

The point is, we need the reflection of others to help know ourselves. Am I being too loud? Am I being a jerk? Am I being selfish? Sometimes I don't know, until it's pointed out by a loved one. Sometimes I am unreasonable. Sometimes I don't see beyond arms length. Sometimes, I need someone to point out what I don't see. I think we're all like that. Some of us just don't want to admit it.

I think with my heart on many occasions beats the alternative. Yes, I can get hurt really easy, but what if I stopped using my heart? When I was depressed, I didn't experience any emotions. I couldn't feel happy, sad, loving, or even angry. I just felt nothing. That's what depression really is. It isn't sadness, nor synonymous with sadness. In fact it annoys me when people say they are depressed, when really they are just sad in a healthy way. My heart was shut off during depression. It wasn't until therapy that it was switched back on.

Why does the heart shut down during depression? It's a defense mechanism. If one can't feel anything, than one believes they can't be hurt. But shutting it down does hurt. It hurts the individual, those around them. It takes them out of the world, and into a place of loneliness. Life ceases to mean anything to them, and they are just going through the motions. The heart's primary reason is to give and receive love. Without both, what use is there?

As the Good Book says...

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”

1 Corinthians 13: 1-3 (NIV)

That's First Corinthians, not “One Corinthians.” Just a side note. Not getting political here.
When I love someone, and I say, “I love you,” here's what it means to me...

It means, “I am dedicated to you. I care about you, and for you. I will take care of you when you are suffering, ill, or lonely. I will not abandon you. I will comfort you, and stay with you. I will do this without expectation of reward. I will do this because I want to. I will do this because I want to be with you. I will accept all parts of you, even the difficult ones, because they are part of you. I will do this unconditionally.”
None of those things are easy to do. It means being with the person when things are difficult. The pains can sometimes be great, but the reward you receive is greater. You lean what it means to be human. We learn how to be human from others. That knowledge can't come from within, it has to come from the connection we have with others.

The heart also teaches us to endure. It gives us strength we didn't know we had. It enables us to survive. It's what has kept me going since my mother died. Since then I've faced several other challenges. At this point, heart is all I have. Someone I care for deeply had said that I faced all of this with optimism and love. I'm not sure about the optimism part. But I have faced all these challenges with love. Love is all I have as well sometimes. It beats the alternative. Hate doesn't get you far. Anger can motivate you, but it burns you out too quickly. Love has to carry you, when nothing and no one else will.

Sometimes, heart is all you need.

Sometimes, it's all that you have left.

Text copyright Riley Joyce 2016

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