Listen to this on the Wild Creation Stories podcast here:
I was born without a heart.
I know what you’re thinking. “That’s impossible!”
But it’s true.
Instead of a heart, I had a very, very big mind. It was so big that I tried to fit the whole world inside it.
When I went to the playground as a child, a bully pushed me down and called me an idiot. I sucked the whole scene into my mind.
I replayed it again and again until I was convinced that I was a stupid weakling.
I went to the ocean with my family one day. The sun shone in glorious warmth on my skin. The sand through my toes felt like home. Then the waves overpowered me and knocked me into the surf.
All this I sucked into my mind.
It became my greatest fantasy of the beach I call home, and how inevitably the waves knock me down to size.
So, you see, my mind was very big.
It held all my ideas about what the world was and what it meant. It held the ideas of who I am and the kind of life I’d have.
My mind held everything that I saw.
Whenever a problem came along, I tried to figure out what to do next by sifting through the billions of files in my mind.
Sometimes they gave me a good solution, but most often I ended up repeating the same things over and over because it was all that I knew.
I had no heart to urge me to do something else.
I had no hope that something else was even possible.
It wasn’t a bad life, really. But it wasn’t a great life, either.
Living inside my mind kept me kind of small. Anything bigger than my mind was literally inconceivable.
But then a miracle happened.
What? You don’t believe in miracles?!?!
Oh, yes, you do.
This was the everyday kind of miracle.
You see them all the time because you have a heart and it stirs whenever you see one.
Miracles give you goosebumps and fits of giggles because they are just so beautiful.
Ever hear a baby laugh?
That’s a miracle.
Ever see the way two people look at each other when they’re in love?
That’s a miracle.
Ever notice the way your chest rises and falls as you breathe, without you even thinking about it?
So don’t try to tell me they don’t exist — you see them every day.
Back to my ordinary miracle.
There I was living inside my big head, running myself in circles and getting nowhere.
The miracle came in the form of a small boy named Henry.
He looked into my eyes and held my gaze for much longer than any grown up would dare to do. Henry looked right into my soul.
He reached out his hand and said, “Come.”
I took his hand while his mother looked on and smiled. Henry led me to a patch of grass and took both of my hands in his, and we ran together in a circle.
We spun so fast it made us dizzy and we collapsed, laughing.
I felt something in my chest, a small bird flapping its wings, trying to get out.
I’d never felt anything like this before.
“What have you done to me, Henry?” I asked.
“Fly,” he said.
I was okay with running and spinning, but flying wasn’t something I did. I liked keeping both feet on the ground.
“Thanks, but no thanks.”
I gave Henry a pat on the head and left.
But something happened in that moment.
The bird in my chest kept beating against my rib cage whenever I saw the sunset or the moon over the trees. Whenever I thought of Henry.
For the first time, I asked a question.
“What if I had a heart?”
The bird in my chest danced.
“What if the world could live in all of me?”
It felt like the bird settled and grew larger, wings extending down my arms.
“What if the world lived inside my heart?”
A warmth cascaded from my chest down my arms, bubbling up to my head. I grew dizzy and had to sit down.
What I thought was a bird was, in fact, a heart in my chest, beating for the very first time.
Instead of sucking the world into my head and living from there, I found a door in my heart, and left it open.
It was a warm hearth, inviting and comforting.
The door of my heart was open for all the world.
A parade of sights and sounds moved through my heart, each time leaving gifts.
Now, it wasn’t all pretty.
Some of those gifts came in the form of injuries and tragedies and deaths. But even these moved through my heart and came bearing forgiveness, compassion and love.
With the door of my heart open, living inside my head didn’t seem like such a good idea anymore. It was kind of cramped in there to begin with.
There was so much more available than I’d ever dreamed of when I was stuck in my head.
Now, I have a heart.
Go ahead and put your hand on my chest. Feel it.
You’re welcome in here, too.