Sunday, January 23, 2011

Balancing Act

Life is all about making decisions. Some are easy. Some are hard. All are necessary and affect the outcome of what happens next…one way or another.

Right now, I’m torn between making the decision to go into self-preservation mode, and just letting the chips fall where they may. In self-preservation mode, I face two options: the first being that I’m shutting myself down emotionally so that I become numb, and the second is distancing myself so that I don’t get hurt. Though neither will keep me from feeling like my insides are being twisted into unfathomable knots.

The knots of which I’m referring rest comfortably on the proverbial scale between my heart and my mind. A scale that is imbalanced with what my heart tells me to feel, and the simplicity with what my mind tells me to preserve.

My heart is on the heavy side. Having shifted with the weight of ache that seems to be tipping the scales beyond the capacity for my mind to rebound. Once resting high, what it contained was lighter than reason, intelligence, trust and pragmatism. It only knew what my brain told it to do – feel. And so the thought process rested opposite, weighing down my common sense, telling me not to be guarded. A balancing act of clichéd companions that would sacrifice all doubt…walk with open eyes through fire…to have a chance at the one thing they don’t understand, but were designed to do; love.

What makes us fall in love? Why, as human beings, do we crave companionship?

It’s more than just the instinctual need to further our legacy. I think it’s because we want a witness to our lives. We want to know that we matter to someone. That our words are heard. Our touch is felt. Our hurt doesn’t go unnoticed. And our joy doesn’t go unshared. A connection to our counterpoint in another – a balance – that quantifies the steps we take on our journey. Steps that take flight when that correlation between the mind and the heart gives our soul a set of wings.

I only know one way to love – mind, heart and soul.

On one side of the scale, if I self-preserve and distance myself from feeling, then I deny the natural response my body needs to grieve. I don’t allow my mind the confusion it wants to sort through now, leading eventually to comprehension and resolution. I don’t allow my heart time to ache, and yearn for the final breaking beat that sets it back on the path to healing stronger. I don’t allow my soul time to recognize that its now void of the one element that made it whole, made it shine. If I shut down emotionally, then I run the risk of staying low on the scale, protected and sheltered. And apathetic. If I distance myself, then I risk always running. Never falling. Never hurting. And never flying high again.

On the other side of the scale is self-perseverance. It is the tie that binds my strength, determinedness, and my ferocity to try again despite the risk of failure. It tells my mind to remain open to new possibilities. It reminds my heart that it might hurt, but hope will prevail. It tells my soul that the void is not a missing piece, but rather a deeper capacity to experience something greater than myself.

So, I make the decision to let the chips fall where they may, and put my heart back on the table. I may bluff at the low hand I’ve been dealt but I will risk betting high to stay in the game. I will find the self-assurance between hurting and healing. Irrationality and reason. Passion and practicality. Falling and flying.

I think the Cowboy Junkies said it best…

“To live is to fly. Low and high. So shake the dust off of your wings and the sleep out of your eyes.”

I’m balanced on the perch between my mind and my heart. My soul is awake. My wings are ready. Tomorrow is a new day.


  1. Two thoughts - both of which I know I've shared with you before.

    1. Self-preservation DOES NOT mean becoming numb to your feelings. You should allow yourself to feel every last emotion that's bottled up inside. It's more about distance rather, so as not to perpetuate pain in a situation that is guaranteed to bring more.

    2. Why can't you get past the idea that your heart and your head don't have to be in conflict? I think more often than not, as humans, we convince ourselves of conflict where there is none.


    3. (okay, I have one more thought to add). Love - true love - is not about what we want. I think it's more selfless than that. If your (generally speaking) concern is your own benefit from the relationship, then what you've found is not truly "love."

  2. Very true, Jen. And all valid points to consider. Here are my thoughts...

    1. I realize self-preservation does not mean becoming numb to my feelings. It is my coping mechanism. I try to compartmentalize my emotions and deal with them as they surface. I have to be selective in how I let them handle me, otherwise, I end up foregoing my responsibilities to maintaining my own identity.

    2. I can get past the idea, but the "conflict" inside me is a legitimate argument between what my heart feels and what my brain tells me to dismiss. Right now, that conflict is a figurative example of an open wound. It is the romanticized notion of the ache that accompanies hurt. And I know no other way to describe it. It's very easy coming from a place of security (emotionally speaking) to dispel that such a battle is unwarranted, but inwardly, I think we (I) need that conflict to have a basis from which to resolve our (my) innermost feelings.

    3. It's certainly romantic to think of true love as a complete selfless act. But realistically, it is both selfish AND selfless. Selfish, because the "high" we feel when we embrace it is addictive, and human nature teaches us to be creatures of habit and addiction. It's the emotional drug that our hearts desire, and crave to experience over and over again. Selfless, because it's a love that is greater than ourselves. A sacrificial emotion, that becomes blind to faults and is unconditionally accepting in its most forgiving form. Love can be one-sided. It doesn't make it any less meaningful, or any less real. There is a beautiful agony in unrequited love.

    That being said, I only know one way to love. Completely. While it leaves me considerably vulnerable, and jaded, I would bear the hurt time and time again, just to experience the fall.