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Heart Beat, or Perpetual Puppy

Posted in Adventures With Humans

From "A Christmas Story."

Sitting I am, with my mug of tea resting on the right arm of the chair. It’s a nice chair of Morris design, a style that I had to look up on the internet so don’t think that I am a consultant for Chairs Monthly, wise about all things seating. The takeaway is that the arms on the chair are wide and flat, almost like upside down skis, so I can set my mug on the arm without feeling that it might tumble.  I rarely sit in this chair, but when I do it’s nice, calming as it faces plants and my west window. The tea is more of a kind of slurry you might make in a cauldron with the help of two darkly-dressed pals, and one of you would ask, “When shall we three meet again?”  It is a potion of various items simmered together for my health, just short of eye-of-newt, and I don’t know, maybe a used orthotic? At a specific moment, I notice that the liquid surface inside the mug is shuddering at regular intervals, clue to some external vibration. Is there a terrible giant walking somewhere nearby, his enormous footfalls shaking the landscape? No pots nor pans rattle. I hear no screams from the village. I notice that my right hand is partially around the mug, and my right wrist is resting on the chair arm. The vibration is not from a giant, but instead, from my own pulse, my heartbeat; my heart that is inside me, that is beating.  

It’s a wild thing to have a heartbeat, a truth-fact that could blow your mind. Perhaps you’ve never considered it, but instead been gobsmacked about having thumbs, those digits super helpful for buttoning shirts, or signifying “nice job!” Or, how remarkable the tongue as aid for speaking, arranging food, and sticking to frozen flagpoles as a childhood right-of-passage. Sit for a minute with noise-cancelling headphones and listen to your heartbeat. I KNOW, FREAKY RIGHT?  It’s like having a wild animal, or a perpetual puppy living in your chest; it’s alive, a live thing, a moving thing, inside of you, doing what it does, always with the thumping, the very thumping that makes you go. It persists from prenatal, all the way through to death. Here, on this day, it’s sending me messages through my mug. At the time of writing this, I am physical host to a vibrant upper respiratory infection well into its third week. I didn’t get Covid, and this isn’t pneumonia, and “I’m still alive,” says heartbeat, as if offering a vibrational thumbs up.

I do wonder, am “I” alive, or is it heart, and I am merely the carriage, gut and brain also stowed. Such a question is like taking your thumbs and opening a giant's can of worms; who are we, what is existence, and what drives us to stick our tongues to cold things? These worms I will keep for another day, but if you really grok it, having a beating heart in your chest is a hell of a responsibility. It’s the most important responsibility as responsibilities go, don’t you think?  Consider that your heart has always been on your side, soaking up and doling out the love, enduring the sadness, the hard things, and even readying you when there is danger or significant challenge, such as a giant in the village and there you are with your tongue stuck to the town hall railing–it’s minus 10 and Adriana dared you. What a knob.  

If you have arrived into your fifties and you have no stories of significant heart-challenging moments, either you weren’t paying attention, or you are a pot of geraniums. Why am I writing about this other than I believe everyone should have a fantastic therapist on speed dial? Well, it's no secret that the recent past has been crummy here on Earth, and now things are challenging in myriad different ways. I don’t know anyone who is not faced with some kind of test, be it relational, health and mortality, or the random insanity of getting through the day. This societal shift is prime check in with your heart weather, and I mean going deep and facing that thing you’ve been avoiding, healing whatever emotional knot you’ve sustained. I know people denying this opportunity at the same time that their bodies are exhibiting physical symptoms brought on by this very denial. Though the focus is toward healing the deeper self, the broader effects are communal: we are relational beings; we are spiritually, vibrationally connected to each other, whether or not those connections are made around a cauldron, in our families, or as we bond while fleeing a giant, so while you work on healing your own heart, you can’t help but affect those near you, giants included. Even Adriana. Your inner work sends a ripple effect outward, just like the vibration through the potion in my mug. Now’s the time my friends. Seriously.

All this from noticing liquid in a mug? I KNOW!