Friday, June 27, 2008

Back to Basics: Living from the Heart

My accountant says he is trying to "live more from the heart." My therapist, just last night, encouraged me to drop my awareness, and my breath, from my intellect down to my heart. "You'll feel a physical shift," he told me.

I live so exclusively in the confused and hectic world of my head that I'm not sure I can find my way out. The same folks who built Caesar's Palace designed my brain--it's easy to find the slot machines but the exit? Sit back, relax, gamble some more. You'll never get out of here.

My external life right now contains ONLY uncertainty. Oh I suppose I do know the sun will rise tomorrow, but that really is the extent of it. Where I'll be, where Josh will be, where we'll be working, where we'll live--none of that can be answered. And may not be, until the very last possible moment before it all starts to happen. My brain, poor literal creature that it is, tries to handle all this chaos by taking control of anything it can get its grubby little grip on. When this doesn't work, it commands me to stop doing everything and sit and wait and re-read old mystery novels until clarity arrives. When this doesn't happen, it amuses itself by making elaborate plans that attempt to cover every possible contingency--and then tries to force others to agree to them.

My heart is silent.

It occurs to me that "living from the heart" has to be more basic than living from the brain. The heart feels things, mostly--it doesn't think them to death. The heart opens, the heart responds, the heart cares.

Josh is applying for jobs in other places and I'm trying to evaluate and analyze each new place that comes up, trying to figure out if I can be happy there. This is a purely intellectual exercise based on a few chat rooms about a particular town and some cryptic charts and graphs and Google maps. It's all the input I've got right now. Yet, the spirit of a place is what matters--but how do you know what that is? How do you get at that, tease it out, look it over, turn it over in your hands?

So I made a list. My list won't be your list. It won't be anybody's list. It's my list of basic, heart-felt life necessities that I think any place I live must have: owls, trees, trails through the woods, independent bookstores, funky coffee shops, a good farmer's market, a source of great cupcakes, a house we can afford, water, wildlife, a place to write, some other people who also write, seasons, places to kayak, the possibility of work, a yard for Tessa, a room with a view, somewhere to get good beer.


Now it's tomorrow. The sun has risen again, life has gone on, and I've re-read what I've written. How ridiculous I am! Once again, I've really only completed an intellectual exercise. My list is meaningless--does it matter to my heart if there are flamingos rather than owls? Not really. And as for wanting some certainty in my life, well, no one in this world has external certainty, not really, not with the proverbial bus idling just around the corner waiting to run us down.

I see that I must throw out my list and let go, somehow and finally, of the intellectual craving for certainty in my life, the sort involving stuff and plans and dates and moving boxes and owls. At least, I need to take as many small steps as I can towards realizing that ALL the certainty I will ever have in my life I have right at this moment, because the only certainty we do have does come from the heart--and that is the certainty of our connections with one another. This is the certainty I have right now: the love of my family, my friends, my dog, and the incredible love and support Josh gives me. Living from the heart--it seems the beauty of it is portable, independent of place and time and circumstance. What does it matter where I am? What sort of birds call outside my window? I wake up in the morning, I see the sun has come up once again, and I fall into my place in the world surrounded by those who love me, and by those whom I love.