Saturday, October 9, 2010

Heart Like a Compass Needle

These days my directionless heart twitches like a compass needle. The mind wants to hold it firm -- steady north -- but the heart longs for the wild meander; wants to skip a beat; to race, breathless; to dance to its own syncopated music. Shrugging off the mind's stubborn grip, where will the heart point? Where will it wander? And toward whom?

I want to feel my life, even when it jangles the heart. I want to exist fully, intensely, inside its expanding borders. The world has suddenly opened up in all directions, revealing both turquoise seas and thorned thickets, blinding sunlight and startling darkness. I want to look both joys and shadows directly in the eyes. My pupils constantly dilate and contract. Which way shall I head out into this flickering light?

As guidance, my friends and family offer amazing advice, comforting wisdom, and their own experiences. One of my "invisible friends," superb singer and songwriter Wendy Lewis, came to me as an unexpected gift through poet Guy Reed. A fellow participant at a group Riverine anthology reading in Poughkeepsie, Guy thought Wendy and I would appreciate each other's creativity. We absolutely did. We have never met or even heard each other's speaking voice, but I have listened obsessively to Wendy's powerful singing and lyrics on CD's of her music she assembled and mailed to me. She gave permission for me to quote some of her wise words from our e-mail correspondence.

Chris: I like what you said: "You seem lighter -- and denser, all at once." You're insightful ... that sums it up somehow. I do feel lighter, but more intense, more focused, more me. After all those months of being in robot warrior mode, it feels good to start peeling off some of the armor. Only problem is, it makes you vulnerable. Hey, it was good/essential to get stronger, just don't want to permanently impair the sensitivity and trust.

Wendy: Yeah—"stripping off of armor" does make a person more vulnerable, but I guess I've always seen vulnerability as strength. It takes a lot of courage to surrender to ones' circumstances, roll on your back and just float down that river, trusting the current to take you somewhere, anywhere away from where you've been. The armor is all about protection—and I think both you and I would agree that life doesn't work that way for long, if ever. Clearly, from your entries over the last year, your sensitivity has been intensely illuminated and I've come to understand that trust is as ethereal as humanity is fallible.

Yes, "vulnerability as strength." Thanks, Wendy ... and thank you to all the others who have stood by me, pointing my heart in the right direction.

The above photo seemed like a good match to Wendy's words, as well as the post topic. It's another meaningful/symbolic shot, taken on July 12, 2008, a day of momentous decisions, at Ward Pound Ridge Reservation in Cross River, NY. (Yes, I will float. Onward!) To enlarge the photo, click on the image.


Deborah Batterman said...

I love the light filtering through the trees in the photo, and the implications of meandering. Here some thoughts, poetic and otherwise, I think you'll appreciate.

Christine said...

Good morning, Deborah. Hey, there are some very good quotes and thoughts there! Thanks!

Sherry O'Keefe said...

opening ourselves to pain allows for so many more textures and layers in our full realization of Life. when i first started reading this post, i thought i might have wrote it at one time (smile)- it is as though you were reconfirming a decision i encountered and accepted a few years ago.

enjoyed this post and plan to track down wendy's work. thank you for this.

Christine said...

Hey, Sherry -- I liked what you said about the textures and layers revealed through pain ... so true! Bottom line is that my decision was the right decision, the one and only sane decision, but one that took years to make and even longer to effectuate. Now. At LAST. Strange how we all travel the same human emotions. Thanks for the empathy!

Michael said...

A great photo, as usual! Indeed, the heart is our compass, and it seems that you and I (and I'm sure many others), are wandering the landscape of introspection and reflection once again. This is a season of the heart.

Also, I just re-read "They Seek an Inky Elixir" and have to say how exciting it is – so full of mystery and amazing phrases. . . without cheating the reader by outright disclosure. Thanks for the inspiration!

Christine said...

Hey, Michael -- thanks. Yes, it does seem like the season for deeper, quieter thought. Still following the heart's lead ... I seem unable to do otherwise! I just read your beautiful blog essay on a similar topic yesterday! So glad you appreciated "They Seek an Inky Elixir." It ties in well with the photo of that giant silk moth cocoon I sent to you to identify. Just noticed it was still in the back seat of my car on my way home; such a magical find.