Thursday, September 15, 2016

The heart is a muscle

I got out of bed this morning and felt strangely off balance. My legs were unsteady, as if one was longer than the other or they were a brand new pair I hadn't yet figured out how to use. It took a few steps for my legs to settle back into themselves. I think it was the result of the massage I'd gotten the day before. My right quad and hamstring had been so much tighter than my left for so long that my body had adapted to it. Once Strat worked everything out and loosened the right side up again, it was like getting brand new legs. How amazing is that? Just a little loosening in the muscle, a bit of readjustment and BAM! I was standing on two relaxed, renewed, raring-to-go legs.

Muscles are incredible in their ability for transformation, to grow bigger and stronger through exercise, to improve in functionality and efficiency through use. The heart is a muscle. The brain behaves as a muscle, in its capacity for plasticity and growth. They too can be transformed, through the exercise of empathy, compassion and critical thinking.

I often struggle to respond to instances of hatred, ignorance and intolerance on social media and in people's words and actions. In those words and actions I see unhappy, suffering people. I wish I could find the words that would ease their suffering, that could possibly loosen up their hearts and minds, that would maybe prompt a change in perspective, that would maybe ripple outward into a paradigm shift, away from fear and towards love. Because that's what hate is - it's just the outward expression of inner fear, hurt and insecurity. Happy, self-actualized people are filled with love, not hate. They don't feel the need to blame other people for their problems or partake in Us vs. Them mentalities to feel superior over others. They can see the reality of the world, the inherent beauty and the inherent suffering. They recognize and appreciate the advantages they have been given and work to build others up instead of pushing them down.

I'm not religious. I don't think there is one book of stories that is the "right" one. I don't have the answers to the universe and all things. To me, the purpose, the meaning of life is this: work hard, love hard, play hard. Work. Put in the effort, into your life, your relationships, your community. Struggle through the challenges, the discomfort, your demons. Do the work and let it make you stronger, more compassionate. Love. As unconditionally as you can, as many people as you can. Love yourself, your life, your fellow carbon based lifeforms, your environment. Play. Be silly, laugh. Don't take life too seriously. Or too personally.

Work hard, love hard, play hard. Use those muscles as much as you can. Especially that heart. It's your very best muscle.

Lyric of the moment: "Change your heart, look around you. Change your heart, it will astound you. I need your lovin' like the sunshine. Everybody's gotta learn sometime..." ~Beck "Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometime"

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