Friday, 29 July 2016

Dear Heart

Dear Heart,

You seriously need to get a grip. I mean, it's all very well going for the whole omnibenevolence, flutter-at-the-site-of-anything-that-moves, type approach, but you should really stand back and take a breather. You see, the issue is, you get attached way too easily: to people (frequently of the male kind), food, items of clothing. You settle for things because they make you happy and they're safe. You know that this particular thing will get your pulse going, or the butterflies flying, or possibly the....stomach rumbling...and that it consistently does, so why try anything else?! Why venture into the unknown and risk wasting time on something that doesn't have the same effect?

Over the last few months. I've found myself listening to and creating a series of metaphors to describe and explain the current goings on in my life and how I approach matters of the heart, so here they are.

First, there was the teddy bear. In December, in the midst of my dropping-out-of-university stress mode, I attended a party. A moustache themed one no less. There, I saw a teddy bear. A really big (some might say life-size), handsome mystery of a bear. A bear that looked as if it would be great for hugs. I saw it, I discovered more about him, what he was doing there, who (if anyone) he belonged to and whether he was actually as good as he looked. I then moved on with my life, left behind the bear and spent the next 4 or so months bumbling along.

Penguin Moustache!
Then one fine day...

I was minding my own business, cooking dinner I believe, just for me. Meal for one. When I received a message asking if I wanted to see the bear again. I could spend more time with it, hug it properly, maybe even hold it's paw as I walked down the street or watched television with a new and improved meal for two. Of course!!! Yes please! Skip forward a week and I've spent two wonderful days getting to know this mysterious bear and I'm thinking of taking him home. I'd like to keep him...if I can...maybe he can even sleep next to me in my bed. So along he comes, and for dinner he stays, sitting next to me on the sofa, very cuddly, an affectionate bear. One thing led to another and then he's in my room. All going well so far I hear you say. Sounds like the bear is keen.

There's a catch.

Looking at the small print on the label, I can see a warning sign and the simple words: 'for loan only'. On calling the helpline and inquiring, I discovered that this message was no lie. You see, this bear is a one off. Unique. Many people want the bear and the bear doesn't want to settle for just one owner...So the deal is, if you want the bear, and you promise not to get too attached, you can have it for a few months, four at the most, but you must give it back when requested. For those four months, you can enjoy the presence of the bear, you can cuddle it to your hearts content and keep it in your bed but, whatever you do, don't expect the rules to change and be prepared to give it back when your time is up. It's even possible that while on loan to one person, it can be requested by others, for a day out or an evening affair. You'll get him back though. Until the timer goes.

A representation.
The only bear I could bear was less tatty
(but as I say, and the label suggests, I had to give him back)
I pondered...Do I take the bear for the four months? Enjoy the time I have? Or am I too emotional? Does that risk too much pressure on the old heart, you, the recipient of this letter? I mean, he's a wonderful bear, the ideal dream image that most would have of a bear (minus the loan bit)...and I'm being given the chance to keep him...for a little while...oh f*** it. I'm in.

That's that. I turned to you, oh heart of mine, and said 'screw you', 'get a grip', 'you'll get over it', 'you've done it before'. I accepted the bear, promised a lack of attachment, said I was ready to take on this new and care-free responsibility...

Yet three and a bit months later and I sit there, happy to hear that no-one else in the last four months has spent time with my cuddly companion, but starting to notice potential new owners standing in the wings. Figures waiting to learn more about this fantastic opportunity and the personality behind this perfectly fluffy outer wrapping, and I know I failed. I knew I would from the start, because you, life-giving, emotion filled muscle, are incapable of not interfering. You took one look at that face and the way he just let me jabber on without taking a breath and sat with a smile stitched to his face, and you made a decision. Without consulting my head, you decided to make life difficult and get all fluttery. You decided to care. Urghhhh. Or is it really that bad?

I had an epiphany and the answer is no. You have officially failed.

Because here comes my second metaphor: Ice Cream.Yes, that's right Joey Tribbiani, I've stolen that one (although it could also be biscuits). I tend to live my life in a safe way. The moment I was given my first spoonful of chocolate ice cream, there was no turning back and despite the numerous holidays or even visits to Ice Cream vans and shops down the road, I refuse to diverge from what I know. Chocolate is good. Chocolate is reliable. Chocolate is delicious. If I'm feeling crazy, I might even go for Mint Choc Chip...the general rule is chocolate.

I mean...
who wants another flavour when you have this!?
Yet while I'm here acting all safe, heading for the reliable Ben and Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Brownie (could you get more chocolate in a flavour?!) there are others discovering whole worlds of ice cream I didn't even know existed. They're trying one flavour, maybe sticking to it for a while, a couple of months, exploring the related chocolatey options, but then they're branching out. They're noticing that Raspberry Ripple in the corner and thinking 'ooooh, that looks intriguing, I'll give that a go! I've still got my trusty chocolate in the freezer if I'm not so keen on this new option.' To me, that sounds terrifying. Why would I want to try Raspberry Ripple when I've got my good old friends Ben and Jerry and their famous brownie mix already in stock.....

The annoying thing is, those crazy ice cream explorers are right! There are so many flavours to try. Some are great, and some not so much. Who knows? It's even possible that I discover the chocolate I thought was so trustworthy isn't as great as I thought. I mean, there must be a reason that I have to keep getting a new tub. Maybe this particular time, the message was: that ice cream isn't right for you. It still tastes good and you can care for it and have it now and then. The way you feel about those chocolate chips won't vanish.


Maybe the next one I try will become my new favourite and I'll never look back. Maybe that appeal will last a couple of months, maybe a couple of years, maybe forever. I just need to take a deep breath of confidence, dear heart, walk out through the door and grab a spoon....

...And possibly some kitchen roll to clear up any melty spillages created on the way.

I grabbed a spoon
Best wishes (and lots of faith that you'll get it right at some point...) your spoon grabbing, ice cream exploring friend,

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