The idea of following our hearts is a sweet and heart-warming concept in an ideal world, but what about when you apply it outside of a Disney movie or chick flick? What about when you throw a few innocent outside parties into the mix, with feelings, dreams and hopes of their own? Are the desires of your heart so important that it warrants a blatant disregard for the aspirations of others?
As we age and grow into cognizant human beings, we come to realize that there are few things in this life which are truly painted in black or white. Most of our choices fall into the gray, abstract worlds of ‘what if’ or ‘I didn’t understand what I was getting myself into, is there a rewind button somewhere?’ We find ourselves doing things we never thought ourselves capable of, often in the worst ways possible, blinking in confusion at the winding path that brought us there as if we hadn’t been present for our own decisions. After all, we had been following our hearts.
Things fall apart; dreams are shattered despite all our best efforts, love fades even when it’s real and life, as always, isn’t fair. Reality operates outside the inner workings of our souls and sometimes our internal compass doesn’t always point north. That’s where our brains come in, that analytical side of the house that whispers things like ‘maybe quitting your job to start a candle making business isn’t the best idea in the world,’ or ‘should you trust a man who is willing to lie to everyone else in his life he claims to love?’ A voice some of us should probably listen to more often.
Our hearts can be our greatest enemies. They can push us toward or to things that disrupt everything we’ve built, things that make us question everything we’ve known prior, and not always to our overall benefit. They can drag us to places we never wanted to be. Maybe your heart pulls you toward the married man you work with, or the boy who will never see you as anything other than a dear friend. Maybe your heart feels that a wild business venture is more profitable than finishing your education. Or maybe your heart tells you the man you’ve committed your life to isn’t the man you’re meant to be with. Maybe your heart is right but… what if it isn’t? What if your heart is wrong?
Why do we operate under this pervasive misconception that we actually comprehend the motives of our emotions? If we understood our thoughts and feelings all the time, therapists and psychologists would have little purpose. There is nothing more tragic than watching someone ruin their lives and hurt the people they claim to love under the guise of following that palpitating muscle in their chests. It isn’t an excuse; it isn’t some force operating outside of our control, it’s you, it’s who you are, and you have the ultimate control and thus the ultimate responsibility.
How many mistresses (or ‘manstresses’) have qualified their choices by saying they were merely following the promptings of their hearts? They weren’t the ones in a committed relationship, after all, so the pain of the person on the other side of the pond isn’t any of their concern. The idea of letting our passions guide us should not absolve us from the consequences of our choices, even when they involve strangers. There needs to be a line drawn in the sand somewhere. Maybe we can shift that line from time to time, but we should always question the origins of our feelings and wants before following them into the darkness. We shouldn’t dive blindly into situations without analyzing why we’re there in the first place, it’s irresponsible and dangerous. Otherwise the hapless people involved in our wayward lives become nothing more than cannon fodder in our battle for fulfillment. Our happiness shouldn’t have to come at the cost of someone else’s, not if we can help it.
Life should be lived in a way that balances our emotions with logic. We aren’t robots anymore than we’re perfect players in a romantic comedy; there needs to be a middle ground. We can emotionally invest ourselves in life without throwing all logic and caution completely to the wayside. Life is an endless, mad dance of equilibrium, of beautiful calculation. Second guessing yourself doesn’t mean you’re weak or unresolved, it shows that you give meaning and importance to your decisions.
There are only three things any of us can actually control; what we think, what we say, and what we do. As such one could argue that our only real responsibility in this life is to garner a deep understanding of ourselves and be responsible for whom we are; what we allow ourselves to become. Your life, your heart and mind, are yours and no one else’s. No one can save you or change you unless you let them, unless you chose to be changed. Take responsibility for yourself.
So, follow your heart, but maybe let your head step in and have a say once in awhile.