Softness is not weakness. It takes courage to stay delicate in a world this cruel.Beau Taplin
It’s been a day of wrestling with myself. In part because the whole idea of living kindly and openly is my heart’s yearning. I reach for this because the world we live in doesn’t answer the cry of my soul.
What is an Open Heart?
It is a paradox. It is the heart of a young child with the mindset of a fierce warrior. The child retains innocence, curiosity, and creativity. The warrior protects all the goodness of the child’s heart with determination, wisdom, and courage. When the two are in harmony, they create a positive, transforming symbiotic bond.
Problems arise when the warrior and the child disagree on how to handle cruelty. If harmony aligns with goodness, then it follows I am out of alignment when I am at war with myself and everyone else.
How Can I Stay Open?
In the healing process, I find it effective to list all the solutions to problems regardless of how ridiculous they may seem. In answering the question of why I should keep my heart open, there are two:
- Selfish reasons
My friend is the recipient of a great of unmitigated cruelty from a former relationship. Amid tears, she cries, “I don’t get it! Why does he keep doing these things? If only for selfish reasons, why doesn’t he act decently?”
So, if only for selfish reasons, I can present the illusion of an open heart. I can manipulate people to gain their approval, sympathy, and support through the use of faux vulnerability. But the façade of authenticity is just that: a façade. It is an insidious way for the warrior or child to take charge.
- Soul discovery
The other option, and for me, the only option, is in striving to maintain an open heart. It is a reward that manifests itself in peace. The child and warrior work together to balance the soul. Opposition has no place—wholeness reigns.
Just as I subconsciously take my internal cacophony into the world when I am in disharmony with myself, I subconsciously take an open heart into the world when I am at peace. I can’t fake this. I don’t have to work at it. People feel the energy of openness and love just as they feel the walls and hate.
There’s a price tag
An open heart comes with a price tag: change, choice, and responsibilities:
- I must be willing to do my internal work.
- I must be honest with myself.
- I must be willing to let my guard down.
- I must allow myself to feel hurt without retaliation.
- I must learn to make choices where both the warrior and child have a voice.
I Have a Choice!
One of my most remarkable discoveries is that no matter what, I have a choice. Being open-hearted in a world increasingly cruel is not about changing the world; it’s about me changing. I can choose. I do choose.
The way I see it, it’s the only way to create a world where we can live peacefully. The virtues are not stand-alones. They do not operate in a vacuum. To live with an open heart requires the help of all the virtues. Seeking the high road is never easy. Yet, if I want to leave the world a better place, the high road is the only road.
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This article was first published in Know Thyself Heal Thyself; it has since been edited.