What I Know By Heart

February 21, 2013 by  
Filed under A-ha! Space, current

Heart Photo 2 - February 2013 What do you think of when someone mentions the word heart to you? Do you think of love and romance, passion and heat? Or do you think of something more intuitive, maybe something like a soul? Do you think of courage? Bravery? Or do you think of something more literal – the living, beating organ in your chest that keeps you alive day to day, and which you do everything you can to take care of?

When I was born, I was diagnosed with a heart murmur, a little swish swish swish sound my heart makes when it pumps blood from one chamber into another. Swish swish swish, like a swinging door that wobbles back and forth for a minute or two after someone passes through it. Swish swish swish, registering every bit of the blood that goes through.

Over the course of my life, my heart murmur has been only that … a murmur. It doesn’t give me any trouble. The only time its presence comes up is when I go to a new doctor and they need to know of any pre-existing conditions. Swish swish swish, my heart speaks to the ear on the other end of the stethoscope. Nope, no problems there.

My heart speaks to me, though, all the time, in other ways and not just in a murmur. It is the voice that tells me when something is absolutely right. And it is the voice that tells me when something is absolutely wrong. It has a direct line to my mind. And when things aren’t right, it sends my mind into overdrive, playing over what if’s and how ’bouts, until I can understand very clearly that this is not the road to go down.

Maybe a lifetime of a heart murmur has taught me to listen to my heart, to sort out what is and isn’t of concern. I don’t know.

What I do know is that I cannot tell you about your own heart, I can only tell you about mine. And here is what I have learned about it over the years.

The desires of my heart are not the means, only the ends. I have made the very common mistake in my life of sometimes often confusing the road with the destination. The true desire of my heart may actually be security, but I think it’s money. It may be love; I think it’s a boyfriend. My heart teaches me that one is the means , the other the end and the two are not the same. When it teaches me this lesson, only then do I see there may be other, better paths for getting where we both want to go. And, if I am wise enough, that’s the direction we set off on.

My heart is resilient, but it needs tender loving care. To love is to be at risk of being wounded, and wounds do happen. The deeper the love, the deeper the wound. Hearts – my heart, anyway – is indeed breakable, and I imagine it is possible for a heart to remain irretrievably broken. But I also imagine that it doesn’t have to be so. When my heart breaks, I tend to it like I would a broken arm, a dislocated shoulder, a fractured knee: it might be invisible to the world, this heart of mine, but it is still hurting and needs time and care. I let it rest, swaddle it away for a time, feed it with words of love and care, am kind to it. Am kind to myself. It heals so much more quickly this way, and somehow is all the more ready to love again, but in a wiser way.

My heart has reasons that reason doesn’t understand. At least not yet, anyway. I have seen this again and again. I do not know why or how my heart knew it was right to quit a corporate job and line absolutely nothing up to take its place. I do not know how my heart knew that flying to Crete six months later was supposed to be the next step on my life’s journey. I do not know how it knew in that trip, while on my second date with a total player, that that man would one day be my husband. I do not know how it knew that Melbourne was the next place for us when, five years later, the time came for us to leave our beloved Crete. And yet it knew all those things, even if logic and reason hadn’t yet worked those things out … and might not ever have if heart hadn’t led the way. But heart did lead the way, and so it’s all come out fine.

My heart knows what it wants. And what it wants is the very best for me. It just may not seem like it to me at the time. My heart (I do not know about yours) frequently pushes me to step out of my comfort zone and do something that requires cojones. It says to me, “If you want this, first you must do this.” Leave a comfy job with a steady salary and good benefits for … Nothing – great! Move to another country where you know no one and don’t speak the language – great! Fall in love with a ladies’ man – great! In other words, it leads me on a path to my innermost desires … but not always in ways I would desire. It does so because it knows that my most prized victories are over battles that have been hard fought. My heart seems to know that I want to be a gem, and so to get from ore to diamond status, I’ve got to go through some fires and face a whole lot of pressure before I’m shining like a ray of sunlight, flashing rainbows out to the world from the very prisms of my being.

What about you?

What is the truth of your own heart?

What has your heart taught you?

Feel free to share. My heart is excited to know.

Namaste and peace,

Image Credit


facultybioCarla Cummins holds her B.A. and M.A. in English literature and is an instructional designer in Melbourne, Australia, where she and her husband have recently moved after living for five-and-a-half years in Greece. While in Greece, Carla taught English as a Foreign Language (EFL) and began her first regular writing endeavours with her blog, Living Happiness.

Carla reads voraciously, writes sporadically, and can usually be found with a camera in hand (for those moments when – to borrow from T.S. Eliot – “words strain, crack and sometimes break”). She’s been part of The Calm Space family since 2010.


9 Responses to “What I Know By Heart”
  1. Jay Schryer says:

    This is really beautiful, and so very true. Listening to your heart isn’t always easy, especially if one has been raised to value logic and reason above all else, but the reward it offers—a beautiful life full of love and magic—makes it all worthwhile.

    • So good to see you here, Jay. You are so right about how difficult it can be to learn the sound of your heart’s voice when 1) it is drowned out by logic and reason’s bellow and 2) it is so quiet. We have to get still, don’t we? Quiet. Only then can we get to know it.

      I’m a firm believer that logic and reason are fitting counterparts to heart — like two scales that balance each other. It takes listening to both to live a life of love and balance.

      Your words are indeed true: the reward of listening to heart is indeed a beautiful life full of love and magic.

  2. ruthie says:

    i love your words!!! i’ve missed your words!!

    so, the heart. my heart seems like yours; i can’t speak for the heart of anyone else. it has reasons that only it understands…and those reasons are always in my best interest.

    the interesting thing about my heart (and i only know my heart) is that it can appear shy. my boisterous and opinionated brain is full of ideas about what should be done; it squabbles and preaches and scolds and talks and talks and talks (and talks). my heart whispers. i must be quiet to hear. very, very quiet. and then, from that still place, i can hear my heart clearly and eloquently leading me exactly where i need to be to feel complete.

  3. This writing was awesome and heartwarming to me, your mother, to see you writing again. Love you and so proud of you. Keep up with your passion.

  4. Kacey Mahon says:

    I love how you share your heart, with your awesome wisdom and inspirational thoughts. I think the heart is kind of ‘spooky’ as Dame Edna says. It is amazing what the heart will do for someone they love and ye the lengths some people use their heart to help perfect strangers, just because that is who they are. What impresses me the most and leaves me in awe, is those who a sick or terminal sick and they use their heart the whole time to help others. They leave a footprint, not in the sand but a more permanent one, in other peoples hearts! ♡♥♡