I read a beautiful passage recently on living with caution, with a heart sealed from the ravages of time and emotion. We all engage in this self-defence, do we not? We have no fear as children. As we grow older, and we are stung by our friends, scratched by our family, slapped about a bit by time, we curl our hearts up into a tight-fisted little ball. The ball absorbs like a sponge, but is always on the edge of an explosion. It becomes an involuntary battle as age creeps in. The battle between soaking in or exploding out the pain. In the throes of constant battle, our mind forgets that there is such a state as living with an open heart. That we can be vulnerable, and its ok.
If we are to worry about being stung, we should also remember that there must be a profusion of flowers to have attracted the bee.
So much held in a heart in a lifetime. So much held in a heart in a day, an hour, a moment. We are utterly open with no one, in the end — not mother and father, not wife or husband, not lover, not child, not friend. We open windows to each but we live alone in the house of the heart. Perhaps we must. Perhaps we could not bear to be so naked, for fear of a constantly harrowed heart. When young we think there will come one person who will savor and sustain us always; when we are older we know this is the dream of a child, that all hearts finally are bruised and scarred, scored and torn, repaired by time and will, patched by force of character, yet fragile and rickety forevermore, no matter how ferocious the defense and how many bricks you bring to the wall. You can brick up your heart as stout and tight and hard and cold and impregnable as you possibly can and down it comes in an instant, felled by a woman’s second glance, a child’s apple breath, the shatter of glass in the road, the words ‘I have something to tell you,’ a cat with a broken spine dragging itself into the forest to die, the brush of your mother’s papery ancient hand in a thicket of your hair, the memory of your father’s voice early in the morning echoing from the kitchen where he is making pancakes for his children.