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We believe that being decisive and dealing with things right away gives us the solutions we need, but sometimes, the heart needs its time.
One of the top 5 entries for May’s muse of the month writing cue, “What does the brain matter compared with the heart?” (from Mrs.Dalloway, Virginia Woolf).
She closed the book and let out a huge sigh. To those who heard it, it was the sound of exasperation as if she’d been running for miles. To those who felt it, primarily and only herself, it was the wail of her miserable heart on returning to the real world.
A book was the safest place to retreat when you wanted to escape the realities of this world. Sometimes losing yourself in another’s world gave you the inspiration to face yours. Not that she was looking for it; at least not consciously. She knew the misery was momentary. How many moments though, she had no idea.
The last couple of weeks had been the strangest time she had ever seen. She felt sad, miserable, and broken. The urge to hold tight, the fear of breaking into pieces if she did not was stronger than ever. And yet she felt as if a calm had descended on her, a strange, eerie calm that was frightening because she did not recognize it.
There was a life-altering decision to be made. She knew that if she wanted to have the life she wanted for herself, she would have to get up and start acting now. And yet the passing days did not scare her. And yet she couldn’t feel the fear that was usually there, mobilizing her into action.
Life seemed to have gone on autopilot; it was as if her brain had taken complete control of a life that her heart did not want to live for the moment. No… not not live in a depressing way; in just a merely-existing-and-not-living-kind of way. Thoughts, plans, fears, possibilities all swam through her head all the time, the quiet of the night was unbearable.
What to do, where to go, what to choose, what if the choice was wrong, was there a backup plan, was she ready to bear the pain that came with making the choice, and many such questions haunted her, more so in the darkness of the night making her crave for the dawn – on the earth and in her life – that made it easier to look at things.
It was scary to even think how she’d survive these questions, never mind find answers to them. And yet, she realized, for now surviving this moment seemed enough. That was what was strange about this whole situation, she thought. The whole mess of questions inside her head seemed like an organized mess; as if the whole thing would sort itself out on its own.
It scared her when she would wake up in the middle of the night with sleep evading her. What scared her more was her acceptance of this calm and the unwillingness to fight it. Normally, she was a person who always wanted to be in control of things. No matter what the problem, how difficult the situation, finding solutions gave her the strength to fight.
She really wasn’t one to be patient enough to watch things unfold, not when she did not know how long it would take for things to unfold. She always looked for quick decisions, immediate solutions.
And it was a result of this hypercritical behaviour of hers that had made her take a decision a year and a half ago, a decision that she had later regretted. Or she thought she had, she wasn’t sure. Maybe it was how her world had shifted dimensions since that time, or maybe it was the fight she taken up to prove to everyone that there was more to her than how she looked, that had exhausted her.
Or maybe she’d just learnt that the impulsive desire of finding solutions to all of life’s problems was exactly what her problem was.
Not that she had accepted it completely, but she knew was coming around. And so, while her brain prodded her to be practical, to think about a solution, to get up and start living, start working, greet life with the same passion that she had always felt, she calmly accepted her heart’s refusal to do so.
The alarm that she’d set on her phone said that it was time to head home. She draped her scarf around her neck and lifted the library’s copy of Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway from the park bench. As she began to walk towards home, she recalled Lady Rosseter’s words, “What does the brain matter compared with the heart? “ It was, at this moment, the most fitting line to describe her life.
Sometimes, she thought, it was okay to merely exist so that when you came back you could live. Because when your heart held the strings, things would, sooner or later, be okay.
Pic credit: xava du (Used under a Creative Commons license)