Hearts and Minds

You hear a lot about hearts and minds these days.  Seems it’s had a lot to do with wars – invasions under the guise of humanitarian efforts, or world peace.  As in “We’re trying to win the hearts and minds of these people.”  I’m not sure what we’re trying to win them with.  It usually comes with guns, bombs, and Improvised Explosive Devices.  Am I just jaded?  Or just a little shellshocked myself.

Why is it that I seem to have had an inordinate amount of experience with these war wounds delivered to my heart and my mind?  If this be the state of Love, then I think it’s high time I registered as a Conscientious Objector.  Your honor, I object.  And I do.  And so do a few others in my circle.  There seems to be entirely too much of this broken heart thing going around these days, with the subsequent barrage of questions from the aghast mind pondering the punctured reality of such an occurrence.

All this brings me to consider the eternal conflict between said Heart and said Mind.  You hear it blurted out in terms that blur the boundaries between the two, as if you said them together fast enough there wouldn’t really be much difference.  Heart and Mind, the Mind-Body Connection — what are we really talking about anyway?

Back when I was more susceptible to such things, while being wooed with those beautiful words, I responded with a reasonable amount of concern and caution.  My head asked:  How can this be?  What if it isn’t, really?  Can I trust this?  This is my heart we’re talking about here – my most precious gift, and I’m not going to give it away to just anyone.  Was I?  I was asking all those questions eight ways from Sunday in some effort to keep my precious heart in a safe place, and not find it trashed in some alley down the road, along with the beer cans and other detritus of broken things.  My erstwhile suitor so tenderly addressed the subject and told me that in any conflict between heart and mind, that one should always go with the heart. Just what I wanted to hear, of course.  Confirmation of my soul’s desire, delivered by someone in whom I wanted to have absolute faith, who of course understood the depth of my concern, and shouldn’t he be likewise involved his own care taking?   I bit, and I hung on, for so long that my teeth were damn near pulled out of their sockets.  I believed, by golly, and no amount of doubt or, well, hate to say it, obvious contrary behavior could persuade me otherwise.  I was true blue – I believed in the honor of the heart – and I pushed the machinations of my mind to the back of my consciousness – so much easier to ignore so far away in the dark corners, where I refused to raise the shades.  Don’t let rational thought get in the way of what my heart wanted to fight for…. and it was a fight, about to the death.  I think it about killed me.

At some point, the heart drags itself up to the plate and somehow manages to piece together enough scraps to hang an “I’ve had enough” flag on a stick salvaged from the pile of shattered dreams.  At that particular point, which varies on all of our different roadmaps, it has become a matter of self preservation.  But here it comes now, out of the mothballs…..let me reintroduce you to… your mind.  Oh yeah, you’re smart enough, we know.  You can contribute mightily to any discussion about the world situation.  You can amaze and amuse with your winsome wit.  You can blow ‘em away with your own spectacular talent, and leave them with their jaws dropped at the feet of your wonderfulness.  You can do it all, have it all, be it all, except…. not quite.  At some point you ceased to have much a of relationship with Truth – when it came to your heart, and your head.

Or maybe it happened a bit differently.  Maybe you were indeed everything, with the honest and complete package, and somehow picked a real lulu of a loser.  Maybe you got blindsided by someone with really rotten character, and he, or she, (this is an equal opportunity venue), just came out of nowhere and knocked the holy crap out of you with totally unbelievable actions or words.  No matter, you still found yourself in the mud, with your bouquet of pretty posies still grasped in your hand.

And now, enter the mind.  Oh my dear, where have you been?  And now it starts – the questions.  The eternal, unanswerable, infernal, diabolical, hair pulling, head slamming, screamed or whispered….. questions.  How?  Why?  But…  And on and on and ON.  The head, what’s left of your mind, now has center stage, and where oh where is the guy with the hook when you need him?  The mind simply will not shut up, and it won’t give up any easier than the heart did when it had its day in the sun.  And just like the heart, it keeps going until it just can’t anymore, whether it is satisfied or not.  And likely as not, it knows what it knows, it just never wanted to believe it.  And then after a while, it does believe it, even if there never came a decent answer as to how or why.  Probably it’s some technical or clinical diagnosis, but that doesn’t make it any better, either.  And perhaps you have to uncover another version of the truth that shows you that you had your own part in this little drama.  Whatever it is, it’s not pretty, and it hurts.

And here we are, your head and your heart, together again after all these years.  Now what?  Best to get on speaking terms, and perhaps plan a better strategy next time — although in matters of the heart, maybe no one can be trusted, really.  Is it really true that someone can die of a broken heart?  I think maybe yes.  But it’s a romantic notion, best left to old movies shown only in the wee hours of the night.  For the rest of us, I’d hope for better ends.  At least I hope that for myself, and the rest of you will have to determine your own desires for your legacies.  I don’t think, romantic as it may sound, that I want to have it bandied about that I died of a broken heart.  I hope I’m a little smarter than that.  I hope I’m a lot stronger than that.  I think I know I am.

You may never be able to reconcile the battle between Heart and Head.  It’s hard to believe sometimes that they occupy space in the same being.  One thinks – one breaks.  The mind reels – the heart bleeds.  But if you’re in the thick of it, take heart.  Take care of your heart.  And give your mind a little credit while you’re at it, or at least don’t send it to the dark places silenced with duct tape.  In the end, there has to be a treaty, a peaceful coexistence proclamation.  And a bit of respect between the two parties.  Maybe it will be the beginning of a healthy new relationship between the previously oblivious to each other parts of you.  May there be the beginnings of conversation, even if a translator need be hired.  May we not silence one in order to serve the other, because, in the end, censorship just doesn’t work, and Truth will out.  And if you’re hurting, may your heart sing again, and maybe your head will help you to remember all the words.  If not, you can hum.

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One Response to “Hearts and Minds”

  1. Sister, I feel it. I know it. I’m living it. For the most part the romantic heart, or segment of the heart, the one with the rusty jagged shredded edges is carefully wrapped in bubble wrap and scented tissue. It sits in a sturdy gift box, nestled in the back of a tall shelf in a dark seldom-opened closet. Don’t know how long it will remain sequestered there. Perhaps at some point, someone exceptional will come along. If so, I’ll don my leather gloves, retrieve the sturdy junked heart and crank the vise down on it and take a side grinder to those rough rusty edges and clean it up. Maybe spring for a cheerful coat of paint. Maybe, just maybe. But only if I want to. It seems the main heart that the romantic heart was torn from, has grown to fill the temporarily empty space. Green growing things, warm puppies, excellent books, laughing niblings, tremendous music, and nursing keep this heart humming along and pulsing quite contentedly. The young me would never have thought it possible to be so happy and content alone, with the romantic heart walled away and mostly forgotten. The laughs and the heartaches and the lessons learned by the romantic heart are within easy reach and often referenced, but only in an amused clinical sort of way. This is such a good place to be.

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