What is the condition of your heart? We can start with its health. How is your blood pressure and what are your cholesterol levels like? Do you eat foods that help your heart? Do you exercise and keep your heart in shape? There is a history of heart disease in my family, so as I get older I think about this more. However, the healthiest hearts are not always in the best condition and the hearts that open the widest to love and be loved are also the ones that have survived attacks and arteries hardened by poor diet.
Are you heart-broken? Heart sick? What is the heart of the matter? Are you crushing on a heart-throb? Are you a sweetheart? What is heartwarming to you? Do you have a heart of stone? Who is disheartened? When did you last act in a heartless manner? Do you show your lion heart? With whom have you had a heart-to-heart? Do you have, in the words of Hank Williams, a cold, cold heart? Is yours a wild heart? A crazy heart? A chicken heart? A big heart? A soft heart? An open heart? A bold heart? A faint heart? A light heart? A heavy heart?
Recently, I have been thinking a lot about my heart and love. It has been safely hibernating for several years. My last serious relationship ended four years ago. My last foray into the world of love was a short, ill-fated journey a little over a year ago, one that I now breathe a huge sigh of relief over, knowing I escaped unscathed. A good friend recently told me of his breakup and how sad he is. Another friend is on the brink of an engagement. Two casual acquaintances, from my past lives of work and high school, recently celebrated an engagement and a marriage. Another friend in a twelve-year marriage is going through rough times with her husband, trying to hold her heart and everything together with duct tape and determination. As these hearts swirl around me, I feel my heart’s beats and consider my own heart’s adventures and wonder when I’ll be ready for the next. It’s easy to stay in hibernation, enjoying life, but not necessarily fully participating.
I have mentioned before that I am fast and loose with my crushes. Somehow, a crush is my heart’s default setting; I am fully feeling, but not fully reciprocating. I easily fall into a feeling that symbolizes love about as much as high fructose corn syrup is the same as honey. In other words, not so much. When I was young and inexperienced, my crushes helped me to learn how my heart worked as I pondered love from afar. Now, it seems to be an easy way to stay closed and guarded, without having to bare my soul. I am not sharing myself too deeply, nor am I enjoying the exchange of falling into and holding onto love.
Right now, I’m in the midst of a long-distance crush with an old friend who has no idea. It’s safe and easy, from my heart’s point of view. I admire the person from afar, participating in a friendship over the miles, while not being fully honest, not completely open-hearted, about my turn of feelings. I fear rejection and worry about the state of the friendship. I wonder why it seems easier to love someone thousands of miles away, instead of putting my heart back together and trying for love honestly and openly and locally. I worry about the mess and the hurt, but know that to feel completely and to live fully, the pain comes with the pitter-patter. The heart opens, the heart closes, but it’s always there.
I keep working on my bravery, finding it and then losing it. I am getting braver in my work life and my writing life, so maybe it’s time to try for the whole life, every aspect, every angle. Maybe, just maybe, I will listen. Maybe I will open up and share and be honest with my heart’s current crush. Maybe I will realize that the crush is one of convenience, not one of reality. Maybe I’ll be able to separate my friendship and admiration for the person, while celebrating my good taste, and stick to the platonic, enjoying our work and long distance conversations together. Maybe this crush is my heart’s way of saying it has woken up and is ready to try again. Maybe, just maybe I will recognize the difference between a crush and being crushed. Maybe, I will confess to my crush, and even if the feelings aren’t returned, I will feel lighter and lovelier, for having shared, for having bared.
For now, I’ll pour a cup of hot tea and immerse myself in poetry and country music, pulling Czeslaw Milosz off the shelf. His poem “Love” says it all to me. So does just about anything by craggy-voiced Gary Allan.
Maybe I will be brave enough to pick up the pieces and to begin again.