I sometimes wonder how I forget that power to knock the tightness, the constriction I feel near my heart out of this emotional boxing ring. You see, this is Fear, and Fear is an awesome opponent. It settles in that place, right around the heart, and will pound and pound, treating the superfine organ as its own personal punching bag, because it has to get practice somewhere. Naturally, this bully gravitates toward the open, the vulnerable and the true. Because a closed heart sits behind a reinforced concrete wall of its own making — closed hearts are crafty you see. Over time they become architects of their own carefully constructed prisons that both do and do not make structural sense. Some like to create slim and shiny — but oh so sturdy — curtain walls of shimmering glass. They decorate and revere these see-through shelters that keep out the elements, but that allow a window out onto the world, glimpses and insight into where the everyone is spinning, crying, laughing, loving, hurting. Watching is easier, and painless. Yet sometimes Fear can crack through this facade, which is why many closed hearts are able to have a beauteous exterior of which Frank Lloyd Wright would be proud, but shelter behind tight, solid concrete walls.
However, the heart is a poor architect, mostly creating those proverbial castles in the air — dreamlike buildings and walls that look beautiful in the imagination but are entirely impossible to sustain. The illusion takes up too much energy and, as it is wont, the heart wants to be allowed to explore. Fear can smell this desire, and it sends out its minions to threaten the heart, to make it retreat. But once a heart has been opened, it can’t and it won’t go back: the first taste of experience, the first pages turned in that fresh book it has waited for years to read. The heart has experienced life and, not out of greed but out of childlike curiosity, it wants more.
So I find Fear has returned to my poor heart, and it aches in its reluctance to go again for another 9 rounds. Last time it made it through 16, but that kind of fight is not sustainable. This time though, this time it will really be different. Because the heart has read a new book, learned the words to a different tune, but one that will not necessarily soothe Fear’s savagery. The heart has also been bruised and beaten and has nothing left that it can lose; watching the last beautiful home it created fall into ruin was enough. It needs more, it craves more, and it is ready to face Fear head on.
The question is, who will win? Fear or the heart?
I subscribe to the belief that any bully or formidable opponent only has power as long as it is given a name and allowed to continue in the same trajectory as of yore. As I am aging and growing and changing, so is the level of punishment the heart will allow itself to take. And over the years, some of Fear’s fists are not coming from what is really a misty specter, rather, the heart has developed its own defenses and it is starting to attack itself.
Fear has so little power that the gentle kiss Hope can and will blow in its direction, will send it away into a million dark crevasses, where it can stew and be alone. Because Fear needs its companions to fight, and once it melts away, its minions retreat, immediately losing their own, limited power.
And today, knowing how much I am incapable of controlling or hiding from, and how tired my heart is of hurting itself, I breathe into this tension, this fear that something is horribly, anxiously wrong. Because neither my heart nor I have anything to lose anymore, and it is time to allow Hope’s sparkle to do its magic and allow my heart to strengthen again.
We only get one chance at this rodeo, and Fear has no place inside my arena any more.
Miriam Lamey is an Astoria, New York-based writer and yoga teacher trainee under the 200 Hour program at Sacred Sounds Yoga to be completed in February, 2015. She strives to be open and attentive to the everyday, using life’s beauty and tragedy as inspiration for her writing and yoga practice. She’s an avid Ashtanga practitioner, also partial to a great new album, excellent bottle of wine, a good Manhattan, and attentively-cooked meal. Follow her on Twitter @mirseven and on Instagram. Read more on her blog atwww.miriamlamey.com.