You know how the symbol we use for the heart is two symmetrical curves bowing in opposite directions, and meeting in the middle? Have you ever wondered why that’s the specific symbol we use for the heart, and for love?
We know that the symbol became a popular depiction for love in the 15th century. We just don’t know why…
A few years ago when my father was very ill and I was preparing for his imminent death, I had an experience of seeing a beautiful rainbow over the glittering ocean in Sydney, Australia. My heart was stretched with sorrow over my father’s condition. And yet, when I saw this rainbow it seemed unbearably beautiful to me.
I’ve seen hundreds of rainbows before, but none of them impacted me as profoundly as the ephemeral and exquisite beauty of this particular rainbow hovering over the waves of the ocean while I was simultaneously struggling with pain and anguish in my heart.
It was as if my heart, having been expanded in the direction of sorrow, had gained an increased capacity to appreciate beauty at the same time.
Is that because a fullness of heart can hold everything – both joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, in equal measure? Is there a natural symmetry to the heart?
Is that why we represent the heart using the symbol of two symmetrical curves joined together?
If so… then, when we avoid feeling pain and sorrow and we avoid letting it be fully present in our hearts… when we jump to trying to fix it, get rid of it, numb it out or paper over it… are we thereby, at the same time, denying ourselves experiences of true joy?
One of the things I learned in my recovery from childhood trauma, is that we can’t selectively numb. When we choose to numb our painful feelings, we’re unconsciously choosing to numb our good feelings too.
This idea was reinforced for me when I was co-facilitating a mastermind session on financial freedom and abundance with my good friends Jeff Walker (best-selling author of the book Launch) and Ann Wilson (best-selling author of the book The Wealth Chef).
Someone in the group started to ask: “But, if the purpose of financial freedom is so you can be happy…” and Ann jumped in right away to nip that idea in the bud.
“I don’t think that’s the purpose of financial freedom,” said Ann, immediately.
“No, no… Financial freedom doesn’t mean you’ll always be happy. It does mean, however, that you can be PRESENT. For all of it. For those you love. For what’s really happening in the moment. For the good, for the bad, for the joy and the sorrow and everything in between.”
“When you have financial freedom,” Ann went on, “you can really BE THERE for all of it. You have the freedom to be truly present. And that’s a precious gift.”
As she said that, I heard myself exclaim: “Whoa.” Because that was profound, wasn’t it?
It clarified something for me.
Abundance, for me, is not about collecting stuff. (Though, I like me some nice stuff, and I have nothing against that.) For me, it’s more about having the freedom to fully EXPERIENCE my life. All of it, no matter what “it” is.
It’s having the freedom to experience a fullness of sorrow while I also keep my heart open to experiences of beauty and joy. Without numbing any of it. Just being fully present to what is.
I know it sounds like a contradiction to allow the experience of pain in order to remain open to the experience of joy… But the great lesson here is: it’s not a contradiction. It’s a juxtaposition, which is different.
There’s a great freedom and a profound peace in being present to life just as it is. And we don’t have to be afraid of that. Because an abundant heart can hold it all.
As always, scroll down and let me know in the comments if this post has helped you in any way.
To YOUR Abundance,
Julie Ann Cairns