Andrew: My God, are we gonna be like our parents?
Claire: Not me... ever.
Allison: It's unavoidable, it just happens.
Claire: What happens?
Allison: When you grow up, your heart dies.
Bender: Who cares?
Allison: I care.
The last ten seconds of this memorable scene won't leave you.
I've grown up and I know this isn't true. Not only has my heart not died, its sensitivity, empathy and compassion have intensified. Its capacity to feel has lifted. My heart is more alive than ever.
There are times when I wish it had died. Or at least weakened. Because the longer I live, the more I experience things that make my heart hurt. This planet's sadness can be overwhelming.
Why it might die
No wonder then when subconsciously (or even consciously) we click off our feeling switch. What brings you unbearable anguish?
For me, there are three.
1. Seeing animals suffer. I know it's the way of the world, but I can't bear watching those nature programs that show predator eating prey. I hate hunting. Sometimes I eat animals, but I feel horrible about it. (I need to stop being a failed, closeted vegetarian.) Bull fighting is humanity at its worst. If it isn't, dog or rooster fighting is. And don't get me started about people with "pets" who mistreat them. Being a loving, responsible animal owner takes work -- too much work for most humans.
Which relates to personal anguish #2...
2. People who suck. Specifically, lazy people. Uneducated people. Violent people. Power-hungry people. Mean people. Selfish people. Unappreciative people. Cruel people. Rude people. That's a lot of people! My experience has taught me that it's a lot harder to find people who don't suck than people who do. The human behavior default is not good.
3. People leaving me. My antidote to #2 is My List -- a compilation of those rare and special people who magnify my spirit. Who heal me. Who I'd go out of my way to meet for coffee. They're my primary purpose for living. They're the people whom I not only love, but crave to be near.
But they can leave me. Sometimes they grow up. Sometimes they move on. Sometimes they die. And sometimes they ghost me. (Loving others doesn't guarantee they'll love us back.) Unrequited love isn't only romantic love. Lost platonic love aches deeply, too.
If my heart died, suffering animals, sucky people and losing loves wouldn't shake me. But as every decent therapist warns, pinching off the flow of sad means that happy can't squeeze through either.
The ultimate "Would you rather?"
Would you rather feel nothing or feel everything? Some choose nothing. I get that. But many of us don't get to choose. We feel everything. Fiercely.
Nirvana (ironic name for his group) legend Kurt Cobain confessed, "I think I love people too much, so much that it makes me feel too fucking sad."
Kurt killed himself. I wish he hadn't, but I understand why he did. He felt the sad so acutely. Why couldn't he have felt the happy equally?
Poachers murder elephants. But my doggie sleeps contentedly beside me in my bed.
Desperate people are scorned by unfeeling, tribal politicians. But humanitarians prove that humans can be benevolent.
People I loved and wanted to love me back didn't. But there are people who love me and want to be in my life.
Want to be happy or at least feel better? Don't let your heart die. Feel. Even if it means feeling both sides.