Heart leaps (#Quest2015)
I’ve been weepy lately over the silliest of things. I think it started with decorating the Christmas tree the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Every ornament I placed on our artificial tree brought a flood of memories from the past. While my children were growing up, and on every summer vacation we took, I purchased a Christmas ornament. And so pulling them out of the ornament box one at a time, I recalled our camping trip out West, a winter vacation to Rhode Island, and innumerable trips to the Outer Banks. But I also still have ornaments my kids made decades ago in school, ones with their photos. Their toothless grins and bright smiles shimmered as I carefully placed each one on a branch and swatted away my silly tears.
Last year, I felt blue as well. Then I blamed it on the fact that my oldest daughter wouldn’t be home for Christmas, but instead visiting her boyfriend’s home country of New Zealand. Little did she know that an engagement ring awaited her there. Of course, we were thrilled for her, and we dearly love her fiance. But because she wasn’t coming home, I didn’t even decorate the tree last year. Left it bare with just the white lights staring at me through the December darkness.
I don’t have a good reason for these holiday blues. My oldest daughter and her fiance will be with us at Christmas. So will my son, daughter, and son-in-law. The whole family together. But the other day, my husband and I snuggled on the couch, my head on his chest, and I just wept, my tears soaking a puddle into his shirt with my ear over his heart listening to its regular beat, my eyes looking over at the tree. Then I heard these words come out of my mouth, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”
But maybe there isn’t anything wrong with me.
Sit quietly and ask yourself, what in the last day or week or month has made your heart leap up? Not what should, or might or always had, but what did. Make that list. Be honest, even if it surprises you. Keep the list with you this month. Add to it when it happens. Train yourself to notice. Then ask your self today, how can I arrange my life to get more of those heart leaps in it?
Heart leaps. The first time I read this prompt, I believed Houston was only referencing those moments of joy. Those tiny moments that could be just the most ordinary of things that give us the most extraordinary sense of delight. A beautiful sunset. The sky before a storm. A child’s smile. The soft fur of a puppy. These are truly heart leaps I’ve experienced and others have already written about better than I, like Suzi Banks Baum over at The Laundry Line Divine; and Stan Stewart at Muz4Now.
Make that list. Be honest, even if it surprises you
I don’t understand tears, especially my tears. Yet I have to believe that their mysteriousness, their surprise and inconvenience are clues for me to pay attention, or, as Houston suggests, to train myself to notice.
And here’s now what I wonder about heart leaps.
Maybe heart leaps happen when remembering former times, years past, vacations spent, trips taken. Maybe heart leaps happen with your ear against your husband’s chest as you listen to his strong, warm heart beat. Maybe heart leaps happen just anticipating the rare moment when one’s entire grown family will gather around a holiday table where bread will be broken, wine poured, and where there will be laughter and stories and new memories.
Maybe tears are heart leaps.
Then ask your self today, how can I arrange my life to get more of those heart leaps in it?
I hate when I cry. My face gets all blotchy, nose gets snotty, eyes bloodshot. It’s not a pretty sight. I generally curse my tears, consider them a sign of weakness, of a heart too soft, too tender.
But what would my life be like without these harbingers of holiness, these wet heart leaps that signal tiny and great miracles, past memories, and anticipations of times to come?
These tears tell me to pay attention, to be surprised at all that is, and then they remind me to be grateful.
A tree with countless lights and infinitely more memories. A husband who listens while holding me close, and whose heart beats miraculously just inches beneath my cheek. Children grown beyond their school day braces and short hair cuts, one of whom who will becoming a mother herself in six weeks.
Tears, heart leaps, gratitude. These all swirl together for me until I can’t separate one from the other. Silver, gold, white threads binding themselves together into a puddle of grace and love. I don’t know how to arrange my life for more of this to happen. But I can begin to reframe my thinking about my seasons of melancholy with their accompanying tears, perhaps giving them more credit than I have in years past. Instead of looking away, perhaps I’ll follow to their tug and notice the gratitude instead.
Thanks so much for reading. Please check out more about Pam Houston below. And also what a few of my new friends at #Quest2015 find heart leaping….Suzi Banks Baum over at The Laundry Line Divine; and Stan Stewart at Muz4Now.
Peace and blessings,
More About Your Visionary Guide:
Pam Houston is the beloved author of four books including novel Contents May Have Shifted and the interconnected short stories Cowboys Are My Weakness. She is Professor of English at UC Davis, directs the literary nonprofit Writing By Writers, and teaches in The Pacific University low residency MFA program.
– See more at: http://trackingwonder.com/quest-2015