There’s a book, popular during my childhood, which I read to my children sometimes. It has strange but lovely pearls of wisdom in it, such as “If one day you must leave home, draw stars on the bottoms of your shoes to light your way back” and “If your horse needs shoes, let him use his wings”. The paintings are strange and lovely as well, full of octopuses and armadillos and cheerful people in bright and wonderful clothes.
Untie The Knot In Your Heart
One particular line always brings a lump to my throat – “If you’re at the end of your rope, untie the knot in your heart.” I may not have a flying horse, or stars on the bottom of my shoes, but there are many times weekly (heck, even daily) where I feel like I’ve come to the end of my rope.
My kids are fighting and dinner’s burnt, we’re stuck in traffic and late for an appointment (and the kids are fighting)…the list of possible frustrations could go on and on if I let it. And I think that’s why that line moves me like it does. There are many times we all feel like shouting, “That’s it, I’m done!” and giving in to anger, but the simplicity of the words – “untie the knot in your heart” – creates a resounding toll of quiet in my seething mind.
I don’t have to let the list go on. I don’t have to give in to anger, I don’t have to shout, I don’t have to let my mood turn sour. There are always reserves; there are always knots that can be untied, to create another chance, to clear a little more space for breathing and trying again.
Finding Your Peace
Sometimes it’s humor. Sometimes when there’s a child covered from head to toe in paint, another with a bathroom emergency at the exact same time, a knock at the front door and place we have to be in ten minutes (all occurring simultaneously, of course), sometimes I just have to throw my hands up and have a good, ringing belly laugh at the situation.
Sometimes it’s patience, like taking a deep breath and trying my hardest to put myself in the other person’s shoes while not losing my temper. And sometimes untying the knot in my heart means creating that extra space for myself, that little bit of rope needed to climb out of a bad situation, or to try and observe a situation from a different vantage point.
To have these reserves, we have to fill them. It would be unfair to ourselves and those around us to expect to summon up wells of courage, calm and compassion without first ensuring that those wells won’t run dry. What can you do for yourself to fill your reserves? Meditate, dance, sing, volunteer, hike, read a good book? Journal, nap, laugh, listen to your favorite music?
The more we create a happy space and time for ourselves, the more we can call upon the joy and strength of that place when we truly need it. Then, when the knots in our heart feel too tight, we will have the tools we need to unravel them.
(Thanks to author and artist Cooper Edens, and the lines from his strange and lovely books, for the inspiration!)[Photo Courtesy: Gabe Popa]