Does the Volume Knob on My Heart Go to “Eleven?”

“If I could be like that, I would give anything
Just to live one day, in those shoes.
If I could be like that, what would I do?
What would I do?”

3 Doors Down, “Be Like That”


The Alchemist finds its way to the bedside table after a hesitant closing coupled with my near-silent sigh.  Trying to center myself this evening, I abandoned my current reading project for literature that could predictably provide me comfort and guide my head out of my ass without the use of forceps.

Tonight I wonder about turning myself inside-out and what kind of person that would make me.  This consciousness I’ve developed over the past few years  — I hold it as the greatest treasure.  Yet on days like this, I wonder why it is I can’t just “bump along.”

It’s a small part of me that admires those who can abide the by-and-by, questioning little and moving along with the herd.  If I could be content with knowing less and absent of yearning to learn more, to have a self-worth that permitted me to be in a perpetual support-role career and act like an automaton … what would that be like?  Fuck, I’ve tried it before, and I know it just doesn’t work for me, but does ignorance sometimes come with proverbial bliss?

My life IS bliss … blessed with friendships, affection, opportunity, and ambition.  What the lyrics above miss, I think, is that we create our ownshoes.  As I lay here with laptop-on-lap at an hour rapidly approaching one that will jeopardize my morning workout, I wonder why my hypothetical shoes are walking around my bliss like it’s dog poop on a scalding summer sidewalk at noon.

Perhaps, on occasion, it’s an easier solution to lament one’s circumstances than to put energy into resolving them.  Right now, maybe it’s not so much an issue of resolving as releasing my need to have an answer right-goddamn-now.

As a child, my mom got my brother, sister, and I each a magnet with a quippy phrase to adorn the avocado green fridge.  I remember distinctly the gentle “thwack” as the magnetized vinyl attached itself to the door.  I also remember not knowing what the phrase on my magnet meant:

“Lord, give me patience … but I want it RIGHT NOW!”

Mother knew/knows me best, and here I am 27 years later battling with patience as I await the Universe’s intent for my future.  Patience — how can one word evoke feelings running the gamut from peace and contentment to urgency and frustration?  The Old Erika would have lost night upon night of sleep and made a series of ill-advised decisions, jamming yet another PB&J sandwich into the VHS machine.  I guess it’s a step forward that the Erika-in-Progress just stays up late thinking … thinking in the bathtub with candles aglow, wrapped in a cocoon of Mr. Bubble … thinking through ideas, rational and not-so, in this nighttime sanctuary I’ve created in my bedroom.

Words I read moments ago come to mind:

“Why do we have to listen to our hearts?”

“Because, wherever your heart is, that is where you’ll find your treasure.”

“But my heart is agitated,” the boy said. “It has its dreams, it gets emotional … It asks things of me and it keeps me from sleeping many nights…..”

“Well, that’s good. Your heart is alive. Keep listening to what it has to say.  Because you will never again be able to keep it quiet. Even if you pretend not to have heard what it tells you, it will always be there inside you, repeating to you what you’re thinking about life and about the world.”

Maybe the reason I can’t “bump along” is that I keep listening to my heart and my irritation stems from the simple fact that I went Spinal Tap on my own ass and turned the volume to “eleven.” That inner voice that tells me to be content with the NOW and receptive to the future, that all will come my way in due time … to consider my circumstances and never choose the road more traveled simply because of the traffic pattern … it’s all coming through in Dolby 5.1 and roadblocking my trip to dreamland.

Ignoring the bliss that I’m gifted with in favor of doubt – maybe that’s why my heart is screaming right now.  My heart, knowing it as I have come to, isn’t happy with doubt.  There’s a part of me that’s wondering if the pursuit of my passions will pay dividends or be another dog of a penny stock bought in volume whose losses point to another dream deferred … if my impending choices are truly the best or yet another diversionary tactic to keep me from taking a risk.

I think I’m done for this evening.  I’ll decide sometime tomorrow if I’ll publish this as a blog or not.  It seems a little private right now, but I can’t ignore the fact that my heart is screaming at me.  You would think that at midnight on a “school night” it would know to keep the goddamn volume down.  I mean, people are trying to sleep, here!

Funny thing about the heart … I have a feeling that it always speaks at the appropriate time and volume, whether we realize it or not.

“Even though I complain sometimes, it’s because I’m the heart of a person, and people’s hearts are that way. People are afraid to pursue their most important dreams, because they feel that they don’t deserve them, or that they’ll be unable to achieve them. We, their hearts, become fearful just thinking of loved ones who go away forever, or of moments that could have been good but weren’t, or of treasures that might have been found but were forever hidden in the sands. Because, when these things happen, we suffer terribly.”

The Alchemist
~Paulo Coelho