Sunday, November 27, 2005

Play soft and low

Heartstrings. You can tug on 'em, play 'em soft and low, you might even be able to break 'em. Actually, I'm pretty sure you can break them, because I've felt, from time to time, a soft "twang" deep in my chest after a disappointment or parting. The twang leaves a hollow place that gets filled up over time with ghosts of memories.

Heartstrings don't grow back once broken; the pain is more than we could stand. If you're full of fragile ones that are easily broken, or if too many are severed through life's vagaries, fog and dust are all that will remain.

It's good to know that heartstrings are remarkably robust. If they don't disintegrate under the strain of loss and disappointment they stretch and grow stronger. They're strong enough to hold you up under immense strain, they keep body and soul together when you think you might crack under stress and strain, they remind you that you can persevere in adversity.

A little-recognized characteristic of heartstrings is that, being strings, they reverberate and record what resonates your soul. When they twitch they can make your heart do flips and your soul turn inside out. When strummed just right they can create hunger for something you forgot you ever wanted, and if plucked particularly well they can play a long-forgotten tune that beseeches your heart and soul to listen.

Even in the midst of positive experiences your heartstrings can feel a little weak, like they might break or burst from being too full of happy. Don't worry over this feeling; that's just the way joy works. Exuberance and ebullience, along with extraordinary happiness, can feel a little like loss sometimes, because joy can play those heartstrings as well as pain can. When that feeling comes, you need to remember this important point - happiness is like food to your heartstrings; if you feed them well with joy they'll be able to recover from any future hurt and be ready to hold your heart and soul together the next time you need them to.


It was a memorable weekend, in so many ways. My thanks to those who made it so. You know who you are. Hugs and gratitude all around.

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