Guard safely your heart. There is much wisdom in these words, at least on the surface. A person’s heart is an important thing, a vital thing. I speak not of the physical heart although it is also more than a little important. No, this evening I speak of the heart which houses our spirit, the heart with which we feel love and give love. The heart with which we accept some and reject others. The heart which expands to abundance or reduces to poverty the spirit which indwells it, this being contingent upon how we use our heart. This is making a degree of sense thus far, yes? It should for I have had more than a little experience in the area of safeguarding my heart. This by no means makes me unique. But it does make me a bit of an authority on the subject.
You see, I learned lessons early that caused me to, not turn inward per say but rather to build a rather sturdy wall around the fortress that was my heart. It was a matter of survival and logic, nothing more. Please allow me to explain to you a little. The details shall remain with me for reasons of my own and are actually unnecessary for you to understand my point. As a young person, I grew up a bit quicker than most. Some even referred to me back then as “an old soul” which means one who is old beyond their years. I was a source of wisdom and counseling for more than a few and remarkably enough, I had the answers that were needed. Looking back, I now know where those answers came from. When one is barely 12 years of age, this is not something that occurs to them. For the sake of time, I will advance us forward roughly 6 years. Now, we are seeing a young adult who has become quite drained emotionally and unable to cope as well as one should. So this fellow decides and takes it upon himself to determine that this will never happen again. So, the construction of the wall I mentioned begins and is built with care and attention to detail. It is not carelessly thrown up in a week or in a month. No, this wall was one designed for survival and protection and the builder of this wall was well-versed in emotional intelligence and in the psychology of the mind. A pretty sharp fellow really. But wisdom and intellect used incorrectly causes quiet chaos. You can count on that fact.
So, now we move ahead another 7 years roughly. Our subject is 25 years of age and well-adjusted, on the surface. He has a small list of those who he will allow through the gate of his heart. Sadly, even those few are only allowed a few feet inside that gate. They can get close enough to almost knock on the front door, but not quite. As you can imagine, no one gets to come inside for they are not invited to do so. As for everyone else, they must remain outside the wall for its walls are thick, impenetrable. Even the gate mentioned here is a formidable one. Everything has been built to specification, to allow protection and therefore, survival.
Of course, our young hero sadly is unaware that those few he permits just within the gate sense the pain, his pain that he is oblivious to. Perhaps because a wall such as the one we are talking about requires maintenance. A new brick here, a bit of mortar there and just a bit more height over on that far wall there. Yes, that’s it! Strong and safe, once again. And as for those outside the wall? They mean nothing and they are nothing, less than nothing actually. These small threads of thought gain strength and become the ropes which over time bind him within the very walls he built to protect his spirit, his heart. Rather ironic, isn’t it?
Another 2 years or so pass in this fashion and this poor fellow is alone in his heart and his very soul has become weak due to those heavy ropes of thought which will not allow him to feed his spirit any longer. Bitterness over his unfortunate life and anger towards all those who give the appearance of having a happy life has starved his spiritual essence to the point where nothing really matters any longer. The present year is winding down and the New Year will be coming in soon. “What better time”, thinks he. “What better time to finish this miserable existence called Life! Life? Now there’s the joke and the joke is on me!”
So, here it is….New Years Eve. His mind is set and his plan is already in motion now. He is alone in his apartment and has taken more than a sufficient amount pills to do the job. But our hero has always been the model of efficiency, leaving no stone unturned and no room for error. So to insure his success, he is drinking a fifth of whiskey. No need for a glass here, ladies and gents! The bottle will suffice. And now…..yes, it is working now for his dark world is becoming darker, closing in around him now in a kind of bittersweet release. It is done now.
Well my friends, by all rights it should have been. However, it has been said that God watches out for children and fools. And since I am not a child….you figure that one out. I do remember that I slept for an ungodly amount of time……18 hours or so, near as I can recollect. There was no hangover but my mind was like a bowl of cold porridge for a good while afterwards. I would also like to tell you that I set about knocking down that darn wall after that night. I would like to, but I would be lying. I am sometimes a slow learner. But you must give me some credit for I never tried to end my life again. Eventually as a few years went by, like most of us, I fell in love with someone and gradually that wall which was several feet thick by then started to come down. And trust me, it is harder to take it down than it is to build it. And since I appeared to be a normal, well-adjusted person, the unfortunate one who fell in love with me had no idea what she had gotten into, at first. I am not proud of myself for some of the years I have lived. And I would like to say here that I was never abusive in the relationship. I detest those type of people. My problem is that I had become emotionally stunted and no longer knew how to interact with love. I wanted love but was lost for lack of knowledge and experience.
My past has cost me relationships, to be sure. But I have learned about love and it is an ongoing education for us all. These days my heart, beyond a heathy concern remains unguarded. Is there a risk in living that way? Of course there is. Have I gotten hurt along the way because of my unguarded heart? Yes, I have. My friends, Life itself is a risk and love is a big part of Life. Actually, Life is love and love is Life. If you doubt this, then just look around you and drink in the beauty of creation, of our world. Do this with the eyes of your heart open wide and any doubts you may have will leave you. And if I may, when in love, do not reserve your heart in that love. I am speaking of all love here. Being in love with Life, being in love with our world and all those who inhabit it and of course, being in love with the one you love. The only path that leads to what is a true love is that path where one risks all and gives all, knowing that risk, yet pushing forward towards the gift that rewards both the giver and the recipient. For the two are really one, yes?
I would like say here as well that I have never been one to speak of my life, past or present. I am a rather private person, to be honest. But I felt impressed to share this with someone out there. And if what I have written causes one person to choose a different path than the one I had gone down? Enough said. In closing here, I would say one more thing……..Do not safeguard your heart, please. Instead I would urge you to risk all for Life and love. It is worth it.
Thank you for your kind attention here. Please consider what is written here.
William J. Thompson, Jr.