My heart is broken. I realize it in slow motion, however. Busy days blanket over the truth. Projects keep me rushing; rushing for the sweet serotonin hit of praise or success or another check mark on the endless list of my perpetual becoming. My heart is broken so I run, and lucky me, my running looks like love. I tell myself I’m running toward, and maybe I am. But equally, I’m running away. The world is broken, the story goes, and maybe I can help fix it. Maybe, maybe…maybe there’s a chance, if we could just…oh, if only…ah, another book perhaps, more learning, more hope, more fixing. Yes, if I can somehow convince myself to believe in the future of this planet or human ingenuity or God’s get out of jail free card, then I can muster the will to continue. I so desperately want to believe in this game we play, so innocently want a place at the table to feast upon the promised fare of security and belonging and prosperity for all. I want to think that I can do something meaningful in these dark days of momentous ignorance. But this is just more of the same self-obsession, more running, like we all run, from our cracked and exiled hearts.
My heart is broken because we have no story. What has been our tale to tell is dead, a failed experiment in intellectual addiction, self-will, and achievement. We worship a corpse hidden beneath an altar of bright lights, flat screens, and noise. Our hearts are broken. You can see it. Thin lines etched into tight faces, dormant eyes, the repetitive motion injury of “the daily grind” extinguishing an eternal flame. We are anonymous, even to ourselves. In fleeing from the pain, in trying to fix, in hoping for a maybe someday, we persist in the anguished flagellation of everything that really matters.
We live in strange days. The promise of the future was told with crossed fingers and we’re beginning to wake up to the betrayal. Invisible numbers weigh us down, signifying only a shared hypnotic trance; our top-heavy Titanic sinking tail-end first. And still, I’m trying to grow up. I’m trying to love. I’m looking for my place here in this decaying culture; still confused, still stuck between the opposing forces of despair and hope. But the truth is that neither one is true.
Despair and hope, lies both, for each implies a future. Each signifies another time, another place, another somehow-it-will-be-different. Morbidity and idealism and everything in between coat my heart and urge me on, away from or towards, looking deep into an imaginative distance for the long-implied redemption. This myth shoves me or tugs, and strengthens my sense of myself, helps me know who I am. I’m a fixer. I’m a hoper. I’m a believer.
And so I’m stuck. Here, with my broken heart, I’m trying to live in two worlds. I’m trying to build a life of and for myself, trying to anticipate market trends and make good choices and smile when I feel like frowning, trying – so much fucking trying. And yet, as the future collapses and the unknown beckons with a foggy finger, I know that it was never going to be. Somehow, deep down, I always knew that I would never become a somebody, a something. I never actually had a sense of where my life would lead and only now do I see that. Just now, today, I discovered that I never believed in the future.
And I feel my heart sigh with the admission. My poor heart, neglected in exchange for invisible investments; the promised capital of a lifetime liar. But now I feel a seed of something else, a faint spark, a childhood whisper mumbling from far away.
I put my ear to the ground and listen for the seismic tidings of my long-lost self. The future may be a lie, but I am not. Here and now, the embers of a new life begin to glow.
Once again, someday calls – how to add more wood? How to claim this warmth, what to do with it?
A smile rises, floating on the smoke of the burning builder. Soft now. Easy does it. Follow the flames and trust that the better world, the whole project, is already complete in the place inside that loves. Thy will be done, thy will be done.
As the prayer sinks deeper, other branches begin to grow, small shoots pushing through the cracks of the twisted rootball in my chest. More prayers follow, words falling perfectly into place, a steady incantation, a flowing ode to my one true wish; the glowing, defiant rebuttal to the tyranny of achievement.
Please, I murmur. Please, may I finally let this broken heart break.