A few days before Christmas, I sent the following break-of-dawn email to all of the lawyers in our firm’s Miami office with young children:
“Good morning! Just wanted to let those on the “To” line know that they will arrive to find Santa Don’s 2016 Holiday Gift, “Heart Talks” on their chair. When you read the Instruction Sheet inside the box, you may surmise that it’s a family exercise and ask yourself, “Why would Don give it to me, when he knows my kids either are too young to talk or just beginning to talk and, therefore, too young to play?!?” And you would be wrong. You see, “Heart Talks” aren’t just for kids anymore! Adults (especially spouses) can benefit from them too. In fact, it will be good to get in some practice before the kids are old enough to play! Hopefully, by the time they’re able to join in mom and dad already will have discovered the art and benefits of speaking the truth AT dinner, rather than having it FOR dinner. Enjoy! Don”
I think most of the recipients were rather intrigued by the concept and the gift, which had, as its centerpiece, a shiny glass heart similar to the one pictured above. But, it was a thank you note I received from the mom of one of the youngest, 5 year-old Briella that inspired this post. The note read simply:
“Thanks for this, Don. It was very sweet of you to think of us. Briella loved the heart. In fact, she’s hidden it in a very special place (so special that she can no longer remember where she put it). Good times!”
That’s cute, I thought as I headed out for my morning walk; and certainly something all of us can relate to – the putting of special things (e.g., photographs, keepsakes, love letters, etc.) in secret places and the frustration of later forgetting where we put them. But, after 6 miles of walking, it occurred to me that misplaced hearts are another matter altogether:
I’m gonna let you in on a little secret:
At one time or another, everyone (even your mom and dad!) has misplaced their heart.
Some do it by choice – by entrusting their heart to others who don’t deserve it, fail to care for and nurture it, don’t value its unique beauty, use and abuse it, badly bruise it with unwarranted guilt and shame, ignore or abandon it, and, in the process, violate that trust.
Others decide as a result of subtle or not-so-subtle messages they receive at an early age that their heart is unworthy of being seen, that it’s not only not beautiful, it’s ugly (imagine that) – and they hide it far away from the world, where even they have trouble finding it.
Still others, who once proudly displayed their hearts for all the world to see, one day decide theirs isn’t pretty enough, funny enough, engaging enough, desirable enough – and they bury it beneath layers and layers of what they perceive to be what the world values.
And then there are those whose hearts are being held hostage (under lock and chain, in seemingly impenetrable fortresses) by eating disorders, alcohol and drug addiction, anxiety, depression, the venomous and unrelenting voice of an Inner Bully, or loneliness.
But, here’s the thing:
While they may have been misplaced for days or months or even years – and have the scars to prove it – nothing about these hearts is lost. To the contrary, when they’re eventually found, their owners discover that their essence hasn’t changed at all – that their hearts are as uniquely beautiful today as yours is – and theirs was when they were five.
Sometimes it’s hard to believe that, let alone to find your way back to that heart and allow yourself a second (or third) chance to more fully explore and experience just how beautiful it is, especially when you get older and you start to forget the way it “looked” the last time you saw it clearly – unadorned by all that other stuff.
With that in mind, maybe today you (or your mom) could jot down a few of the things that make your heart smile and tuck the note away just in case your heart too goes missing someday and you need to be reminded where to find it. In the meantime, please accept this “second chance” heart from me to you as a symbol of this important truth.
P.S. I love your name!