Letter to My Heart

8 years ago

Dear Heart:

I try really hard to be a good person. I want to make the world a better place, a place where people can be free of gender constraints and just be themselves. I've spent years working on public policy in the nonprofit sector, trying to institute sound programs that alleviate poverty and enable people to live as individuals. Like most idealists, together you and I embody the spirit of a bleeding heart liberal. I'm proud that we work together that way.

Yet, despite our ideals, we've learned a few things over the years about people, haven't we? With each lesson, you've stored away a little piece of cynicism. The cynical, deep black spot at the bottom of you is really what makes me me, isn't it? Yeah. Whenever we read the news and see that people voted to ban gay marriage or that not one Republican voted for the stimulus package even after Obama took out funding for family planning, we put the paper down with disgust and think to ourselves, "People deserve the shitty world we created for ourselves, don't we?" When we hear that Rush Limbaugh was busted for stealing prescription drugs, we delight in the short-lived schadenfreude that ensues when a hypocrite gets his comeuppance. OK, we don't delight in the misfortune of our enemies - we revel in it.

It is you, heart, that let's me battle in all earnestness for reproductive rights for all women, yet cackle gleefully when we read insane press releases by "pro-life" groups protesting doughnut shops for offering freedom of choice in fatty pastries. You realize that the desire for justice will burn me out if I can't have a good laugh every once in a while. You protect the shreds of sanity that I have left. (And my brain sends its thanks, by the way.)

You make me want to engage in the world even though it often disappoints me. You remind me that whatever doesn't kill me can usually lead to a bitterly funny story, so there are few things not worth pursuing. If all goes well, great! If not, I've got a new topic to skewer. While most of you basks in the warm fuzzies, the cold part of you really appreciates the dark humor. It's a nice balance.

We've gone through a bit in our 33 years together, and you've prepared me to take risks for the next few decades, too. You've shown me that you might break every once in a while, but that you are not irreparable and thus I should not hide from the world to protect you. Once, I did build a very solid wall around you, insisting that I would never engage in romantic love again, but you craftily spent time secretly removing the bricks, so that when the right opportunity came along, I was surprised to discover that I could share you after all. Even better, the person I exposed you to found that your dark spot was as engaging as your better parts and I didn't have to hide you, creating a stronger bond between us.

My mom (bless her heart) always tells me what a good heart I have. Usually I argue with her, knowing that many of our impulses are less than pure. Dearest heart, you are the epitome of yin and yang, and because of it, my life is richer. Thanks for keeping me going in every way.


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