ALCHEMY OF WORDS
ALCHEMY OF WORDS
It's these expressions I never give
That keep me searching for a heart of gold.
I’ve listened to Neil sing that song maybe a thousand times. (Raise your lighters if you know what I’m talking about.) And so, naturally, I thought I understood what it was about. It's a theme song for every soulmate-searcher on the planet, right? It's a lyrical manifesto for every sensitive romantic looking for The One. You know, the search for the glass slipper’s perfect fit, the twin flame, the split-apart, the heart of gold.
Sure, that's part of it. But if you read the quote at the top of the page again, you’ll discover it’s not just a story of the search for true love. We've all done our share of mining. And we've all come up short of our expectations. Is that because we were looking in the wrong places? Or were we looking for the wrong things?
I won’t pretend to have a backstage pass to Neil’s psyche. But I think he was trying to explain that he didn't have to go to Hollywood or to Redwood (or across the ocean) to complete his search. He confessed that he’d been spending too much time in his mind. (It’s such a fine line.) And as everyone knows, no good has ever come from that.
So what’s a determined glass slipper-bearer to do? I'm not going to tell you that you need to make yourself into the kind of person who would be lovable by the kind of person you want to find. Because other people have probably told you that. I'm happy to remind you it's true. But that's not the end of the story.
The crux of the tale, I think, was best told by Sam Phillips: We don't want lives of steel / We don't want hearts that feel / We want to live above it all. At first glance, these two lyrical stories don't appear to cohabitate very well. But if you listen a little closer, they’re both saying the same thing. The hard truth is that you won't find a heart of gold without doing a little work.
If you only want a soulmate so your life will be cushier, well, I've got some bad news. Life's not really like that. If you want a heart that doesn't feel any pain, then you're not going to have a heart of gold. And if you don't have a heart of gold, well, you're not likely to find a heart of gold.
The key is in the first line of Neil's quote, "It's these expressions I never give" that keep him searching. In other words, he needs to get out of his mind and out of his own way. He says he wants to live and he wants to give, but he's not doing the latter, so he can't do the former.
Hearts of gold don't find themselves lined up at the doorstep of those unwilling to give anything of themselves. And I'm not taking about the desperate kind of neediness that disguises itself as having just so much love to "give." I'm talking about being willing to live your own life. About being authentic. And about still being strong enough to share that life, its gifts, and the space it inhabits, with another human being, heart, soul, and sometimes messy fallout.
Real life is not neat and clean. Life is about digging in and getting yourself dirty. Look around at the people who are happiest. You’ll see they aren't worried about mud. Because without a little mud, life is not possible.
Wanting to live above it all means we never even scratch the surface. And while staying on the surface might keep us clean, it isn't all that interesting, is it? One thing’s for sure, we are never going to find any gold just laying around on the surface. That's not where gold likes to hang out.
Gold is a little more secretive than that. Gold is a cat, hiding god knows where until it is ready to be found, snuggling down into its makeshift forts of cardboard and cupboards, bushes and boxes, blankets and pillows. The more layers the better. And there it rests, waiting for our wits to grow sharp enough to find it.
Gold is a playful lover. One who wants you to work a little for it, knowing the payoff will be worth the effort. Yes, gold is kind of like foreplay. And if you think of it more as play than work, you're likely to have a lot more fun.
Hearts, as it turns out, are much the same. Though, from time to time, we've been known to wear them on our sleeves, this is not their preferred location. Hearts prefer to stay deep within our chests, where only those willing to look deep enough will be able to see them.
Hearts of gold are the rarest of metals. And the only way to find a heart of gold is to first transform your own heart. Like attracts like, no matter what you've been told. If you want to live, you've got to give, of yourself, and your heart.
You've got to give to yourself and to others. You've got to use your voice and to make space for other voices. You can't stand above it all, like some heartsick Gatsby peering over the balcony. You've got to walk into the crowd, the river, the mud, this thing called life. Yes, you.
Keep turning over stones. And I'll see you in the river.
-from "Dig Deeper" - one of 66 essays in the Gold Nautilus Award winning collection, Happiness Is an Imaginary Line in the Sand.
Available here: https://www.tlqonline.com/happiness-is-an-imaginary-line...
Your minds to what I am about to say.
I am not here to hand you another overwrought cliché for you to toss into your growing stack of inspirational quotes you'll forget by dinnertime. I'm talking about changing the way you see the world around you. About rethinking your interactions with that world.
It's not just about your heart.
Sure, being open requires an open heart. And I promise I'll get to that. But first we need to talk about the mind. We all live such a ridiculous amount of time there that the mind is the first door we need to get through.
It would be easy to blame our modern habits. How, increasingly, every spare second of waking life is spent in a frenzy of multi-task-driven dysphoria. And so I will, a little. But it isn’t technology’s fault. It’s what we do with it. It’s how we do what we do with it.
While our technological abilities are growing like a virus on, well, virus steroids, our minds are being numbed into submission. Our minds are constantly opening to new ways to use technology, and steadily closing to almost everything else.
The mind and technology have one primary thing in common. They both are meant to work for us. Instead, we end up working for them. To be open means that sometimes we have to stop. We have to put down our electronic addictions and rethink every thing in our lives we have put on autopilot.
Though your heart is essential.
What can be said about the heart that hasn’t already been said? Plenty, I’m sure. Because the heart knows everything the mind has ever learned and forgotten. And so much more. The heart has a stash of secrets so large it has taken thousands of years of poets just to reveal a tiny few.
Yes, it is counter-intuitive.
Because everywhere, all day long, there are reasons to close down. To protect yourself. From the naysayers and the nit-pickers, the needy and the ne’er-do-wells. What you cannot see with your heart slammed shut is that everywhere, all day long, there are millions of reasons to stay open.
And I’m not just talking about the birds and the butterflies, the sexy storms and the saturation of colors under Sierra clouds. But when you open a door for yourself, you open a door for others.
Find your door to freedom.
Because that is the only way. Because until we are open, we are not free. While we are vigilantly patrolling the borders of our egos, our comfort zone, our I-don’t-want-others-to-know-I’m-human, we are missing out on real life.
The battle between open and closed is not new. Its roots are ancient and are still deeply embedded in the modern world. From the oppression of religious theocracies to the free love and new age movements, this tension between open and close remains a central theme of life.
I get it. The world can be a scary place. But the secret to freedom is the same as the secret to conquering dream monsters. You must turn and look them in the face. Though you’re afraid of whatever may be on the other side of the door, you must open it anyway.
This is the only way to freedom. You must open doors. Everywhere, every day, all the time. Open the door to smiling at strangers. Open the door to asking him out. Open the door to admitting mistakes. Open the door to saying you’re sorry. Open the door to letting more go.
And then open a little more.
I'm talking about standing on desks. About challenging your thoughts, your feelings, your fears, your ideas, your knowings, your ways.
You may think you’re already there. You’re already open and out there. But I'll bet you a beer you’re not. I'll bet that you could add a million tiny freedoms to your life that take no time or money.
Open to the idea of rain, to the possibilities of flowers. Open to the rush of your real life lived, not simply imagined. Open your skin to the touch of a lover. Open your arms to your friends. Open your wallet to a stranger. Open your chakras, your mantras, and your ideas of yourself.
There will always be naysayers. Open the door and let them go. Let go of all your collected thoughts of you. And make room for the joy that will flood itself in as soon as you unclutter your you.
Because really, is there anything better? Then do it in everything you do. Strip off the layers of closed-door clothes and dive in. Feel the silky caress down the length of your life. And live all the secrets of you.
Let yourself unfold like all the flowers of spring. Give yourself and your beauty to the world. And then let the world shine it right back on you.
-from the Gold Nautilus Award winning collection, Happiness Is an Imaginary Line in the Sand. Available here: https://www.tlqonline.com/happiness-is-an-imaginary-line