Home > advice -- not that you asked, I will hug you > Investing the Heart: Hold the Fava Beans. Pass the Chianti.

Investing the Heart: Hold the Fava Beans. Pass the Chianti.

“I expect, like many another, you’ll spend your life oscillating between fierce relationships that becomes tunnel traps, and sudden escapes into wide freedom when the whole world seems to be just there for the taking. Nobody’s solved it.”

~Ted Hughes, in a letter to his son Nicholas (Reid 513-4)

“The only calibration that counts is how much heart people invest, how much they ignore their fears of being hurt or caught out or humiliated. And the only thing people regret is that they didn’t live boldly enough, that they didn’t invest enough heart, didn’t love enough. Nothing else really counts at all. […] that’s how we measure out our real respect for people—by the degree of feeling they can register, the voltage of life they can carry and tolerate—and enjoy.”


 When the dust of things settle, I believe that we are simply boiled down to our emotions. Our capacity to feel, the reasons that we feel, and the limits inherent therein. If life is a series of relationships that either trap or free us, as Hughes expresses above, there are two kinds of people in life: those who tether us (either knowingly or unknowingly) and those who set us free. Opportunities seized and missed, all part of an unsolvable puzzle.

Hughes goes on to say that the only thing that matters is the heart, how much it was invested and how much the heart can stand. The heart, I think, is a strange creature; it is often a wild thing of unimaginable depth. People make the mistake of assuming they know their heart, like knowing a certain road or a well-used recipe. It is a map that is always shifting, yet it is infinitely the same. You dissect it, but never really understand it. It may be the first and last great mystery in each of our worlds.

Time and again, we try to trap ourselves with explanations, parsing out sentences until they’re unrecognizable, save to say that once – they made sense. Once, they meant something. But meanings, like people, change. Transforming from one heartbeat to the next, lit up like lightning from an unexpected and clear sky.

How much heart to really invest, daily? In people, in passions? It’s a scary thing, I know. It’s akin to cracking open your chest, unaided by skills or anesthesia, while standing in the middle of Times Square with a scalpel. Or a chainsaw. Next to a very hungry serial killer, holding Chianti and Fava Beans. Basically, it’s not for the faint of heart or the relatively sane. Because to love? Or to try to love? It’s an act of total balls-out crazy. The potential for pain is so great that it is a wonder we chuck ourselves off that Cliff of Insanity time and again. The trouble is, the potential payoff shines like the aurora borealis, pretty and ethereal – almost not real, except for what you witness. That is love, really: what you see and feel, no matter how surreal it may seem.

I believe in risk. I believe in the heart, as unreliable as it can sometimes be. I believe in grand speeches and honesty. I believe in doing a stupid thing for the right reasons. I believe that foolishness and bravery go hand-in-hand. I believe that we regret the things we do not do or try – more than we regret the wounds we nurse because of the times we’ve landed on our faces. I believe in unnecessary smiles, the beauty of a perfect kiss, and wisdom of kindness. I believe in numbered chances, forgiveness, and somewhat ridiculous grins. I believe some things should be spoken softly, while others deserve to be shouted or sung. I believe in singing, loudly, even in the supermarket.

I do not believe in holding back. I do not believe in fear-worship. I do not believe in running away, speaking in riddles, or failure through inaction.

What do you believe in? What do you invest in? And what are the things that hold you back? (Whatever they are, demolish them.)

  1. Jessica
    May 8, 2012 at 9:15 am

    One of my favorite quotes is by Theodore Roosevelt (come to think of it, nearly all my favorite quotes are from one Roosevelt or another… Smart cookies in that family). “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” I try to live my life by that every day.

    I am a fan of the grand gesture, as you’ve probably guessed. That completely insane moment of reaching into you own chest, pulling out your heart, and placing it, still beating, into the hands of the person in front of you. It might not be the right time, or the right place, or the right person. It may simply seem like it is given the limited perspective you have been allowed. But even having your heart crushed before your eyes is somehow not as terrible as the pain of doing nothing at all. Making the wrong decision hurts less than allowing regret or bitterness to eat away at you, full of late nights where all you can think is “What if?”. Because at that point, you can’t change anything. You can only wonder.

    Live fully. Love fully. Holding back doesn’t hurt anybody but you.

    • May 9, 2012 at 7:44 am

      The Roosevelt’s were definitely full of wisdom. It’s kind of amazing. And I agree with that quote: the worst thing IS to do or say nothing. I’m all for insane moments and crushing possibilities, because at least then, there’s an answer. There’s no more wondering. You know. And there’s something to be said for that. Great comment, chica.

  2. May 8, 2012 at 9:25 am

    Great post!

    An older friend of mine once told me he applied the “rocking chair” test to all of his major decisions. “When I’m too old to do anything but sit on the porch in a rocking chair, what am I most likely to remember? What am I most likely to regret.” He said that simple test often led him to take bold actions instead of half-measures because he didn’t want to look back on what might have been.

    • May 9, 2012 at 7:45 am

      Jim, I like that idea! I may have to adopt that as my own. That is really very simple, but profound. Thank you for sharing it!!

  3. May 8, 2012 at 9:41 am

    Great post. Great comments. I like Roosevelt’s words and the rocking chair test. I believe in stepping out of comfort zones. And though we all play the game of “If I’d only” from time to time, I do not believe in dwelling on “what might’ve been”. Instead of viewing such things as failure, look at them as feedback. Learn from the experience and let it inform your next decision in a *positive* way. Anything worth pursuing – relationships, dreams – comes with risks. I’m not sure to whom this quote is credited, but I like it: “Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try”.

    • May 9, 2012 at 7:46 am

      I like that quote, Blake! That’s beautiful. You’re right, too — we do play the “if only” and “what-if” games too often. It doesn’t help us in the present or the future, to look at things like that. Great comment, my dear. Thank you for reading!

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: