Q: Jim, you seem to be a good person. You treat people well. You are kind and loving. But even so you still seem to get hurt a lot—and by a lot I mean every single day. Why do you think this keeps happening?
A: Well, let me tell you why this is the case. Simply…I live with my heart space wide open. On the surface this probably sounds like a glorious undertaking that smells of lilacs and roses. It evokes the iconic image of Leonardo Dicaprio and Kate Winslet on the bow of the Titanic, arms outstretched, wind blowing through their hair, blissfully in love—life is a beautiful thing. But let me tell you, living with my heart space wide open is risky business, not unlike the voyage of the Titanic. Leaving the door to my soul open creates a certain vulnerability to hurt. Even cracking the window to my soul can be an invitation for hurt to breeze in. I literally ask myself every day, “Is it worth the pain? Can I handle the hurt?”. The answer is always yes, of course. The alternative of closing my heart space would mean missing out on all the love, beauty, joy, forgiveness, and grace that the world showers me with every day.
I’ve learned to let all emotions come into my heart—even the ones that are really ugly. They all get an opportunity to teach me something. Sometimes the ugly ones get a makeover, but sometimes I tell them to leave. “I see you. I hear you. Now get the hell outta my house!”
I understand that hurt, and fear, and anger are going to show up at my front door like hungry stray cats. I don’t feed them! I observe them, listen to them whine and mew, but then I let go of my need to adopt them. Yup, I walk away. I don’t have the desire to wrangle an emotional herd of cats.
My advice to anyone wading through a dung heap of emotion is to walk through it with swagger. Keep your heart space wide open. Take it all in, even the hurt and sorrow and pain. The shit will get deep, but then if you keep walking, you’ll reach the shallow side. That’s the nature of dung heaps.
You know what else? It’s amazing how my angels are willing to get messy with me. I can be in a blinding rainstorm of emotional sewage yelling, “Marco!”, and my angels are screaming back to me, “Polo! Polo!” They do this to guide me to the shallow side of the dung heap—to the edge of the rainstorm—and to a quiet place. They help me transform my sorrow and pain into joy. Please understand, I’m not only talking about my heavenly angels, I’m talking about Bradley, and Nancy, and Leslie, and Gay—the angels that are in my life right now. The ones I can hug and hold and kiss on the cheek.
So, why do I keep getting hurt? Because I continue to choose to live with my heart space wide open. I let all these emotions come into my heart—the good, the bad, and the ugly. Occasionally even Hate will sneak in because he ignored the sign in the yard: “NO H8 ALLOWED!”. I quickly kick his ass out, because ain’t nobody got time for dat.
I allow these emotional visitors to wander around inside me for a while, and I listen to them whisper all kinds of things. I listen and learn, and then show them to the door or window or garbage disposal. I know that in my soul’s garden hurt is transformed to joy. It rises up, leaving a chrysalis of lessons behind. I hold onto those lessons because I know that someone in my life will need the wisdom that my emotional visitors are creating.