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  • Andre Lamartin

Closing Your Heart to the World

The price one pays for arrogance is never seeing past the horizon of personal experience, for the limitations of our lives are not the limitations of human existence. Life is a continuous learning process, requiring great humility, because our perception of human existence expands as we amass experience, and there is always more to life than revealed by our current personal understanding. One day, these cautionary words were all insensitively trampled by someone who told me that love and faith simply do not exist. The limitations of her experience became a self-imposed limitation on her existence. The price of arrogance is a self-imposed limited existence. The same is true of bitterness.

The reason for her disbelief remains unknown, though a disillusioned heart is my suspicion. An experience that scarred her deeply, altering her perception of life and future expectations. A hardened heart can easily accept the confines of past experience as the limitation of future ones. Arrogance by any other name is just as blind, so is bitterness. Perhaps the greatest blindness of all is to believe that love does not exist. This negates the possibility of establishing meaningful human relationships, including one with God. Faith devoid of love is a road leading only to hypocrisy. The same is true of life itself.

When disillusionment leads one to refute the existence of love, human beings become a means to an end. This blindness compromises friendships, relationships, family relations, and marriage. Disbelieving in love is negating the true value of the human being. The abyssal emptiness that takes its place nullifies the compassionate treatment of others, explaining much of the current social strife. A disillusionment with love lies at the cornerstone of every abusive relationship, adversely affecting the lives of adults and children alike. It undermines the unity of the family structure itself.

The woman previously alluded was hardly the first victim of this disillusionment with love. Having experienced heartbreak myself, I speak from personal experience on this matter. During moments of hardship, financial, emotional, physical or otherwise, it is customary to seek refuge in the arms of loved ones. Sometimes asking only for an illuminating word of advice or a healing compassionate word. Unfortunately, this was not my experience. During my greatest difficulties, I sought refuge in my loved one in vain. Not only did she refuse assistance, she compounded my pain with humiliation. The most insensitive words of a loved one willfully poured on my open wounds. I felt like a man locked outside a secluded cabin in a forest during a violent snowstorm, desperately banging on the door for assistance only to have it closed on my face. All the while, the derisory laughter of my loved one echoed through the woods, stronger than the sibilant sound of the wind wrestling my body to the ground. This is abandonment. This was my heartbreak. One day to be examined in the detail of life´s true colors.

After the breakup, my perception of life changed considerably. Despite not losing faith in love, I realized the extent to which others around me had. Many of the women met as acquaintances, classmates or friends came from a long series of failed relationships, and their past boyfriends were unlike myself in almost every discernible way. Though I longed to establish a meaningful connection, it seemed questionable to do so with women who had such disparate love interests. One woman in particular was similar to me in many ways. Our conversations were enjoyable and she seemed sensitive. We also shared some musical and general life interests, making conviviality possible. She valued education and had a mother who was a very strong role model. Though others valued her primarily for her beauty, what captivated my interest was her intelligence and sensibility.

This is where the similarities ended. She confessed to never being in a relationship for more than six months, and there had been a string of them. Her boyfriends were mostly models, as physically attractive to the opposite sex, as equally insensitive and dimwitted. If the male company she kept determined my perception of her, the reflection seen was unappealing. Her choice of men remains a mystery to this day, given the other side of her personality I had known. Despite her repeated entreats, our relationship never surpassed the well-delineated boundaries of friendship, a compromise negotiated by differing values. When two roads diverge in a yellow wood, soulmates should take the one less travelled by, for it makes all the difference. She seemed unwilling to face the hardships of the ride. I proceeded along my path accompanied by Frost.

To have erred once was humanely understandable, though my vision should have been clearer. To have erred twice was unacceptable, for the price of ensuing bitterness and disillusionment would have been too costly to pay. Though alone, my faith in love kept me company, requiring protection for it was the very embodiment of hope in the future. Being an avid reader and pupil of history, the importance of studying the past to contextualize the present was never lost on me. However, the limitations of the past should not be perceived as the limitations imposed by the future, lest we become prisoners of time itself. Bitterness is a shackle that binds a human being to false preconceived notions forged by past negative life experiences. Once a human being is bound by bitterness, future movement becomes impaired, and travelling to different lands a practical impossibility.

Bitterness does not bind my soul, but exercising greater caution is a necessary measure, for weary is the heart who opens itself to the first visitor, making no provisions for the character and values of the newcomer to your life. If this entails celibacy and great patience, such is a small price paid for finding one´s true-life companion. Modernity may state otherwise, but I personally take my cue from an emotion that predates historical classifications of time, one written down in eternal lines. The reasonable attitude is to remain open to meeting new people and establishing new human connections, but always being mindful of past lessons learned, and future qualities longed for. The clock remains a fearsome enemy, for it is one of the yardsticks of life, but succumbing to bitterness is much more painful and destructive. While there is hope, there is life. Where there is bitterness, remains only strife.

The mysterious woman who professed not to believe in love and faith was not someone met face to face. Our exchange was separated by the digital barriers of the internet, and all the hope I could send her was through a few words on a screen reproduced below because they deserve to be remembered and seen, if not for the benefit of others, certainly for my own. For my cautionary words shown to others, should in my own heart, also find a home:

When you close your heart to the world, you imprison yourself inside. The bounds of your perception are not the bounds of human life. To close your heart to love is to negate life itself. Whatever heartbreak you experienced, others have as well. Time does not heal all wounds; it only leaves scars. Love does the healing, but requires faith from afar. Believe in what is unseen today, for tomorrow brings a brand new day, when love will be visible again as you finally find your way. When I felt alone, Christ was always by my side. He remains by yours as well, for your sake having died. Prayer always helps, as does sage heartfelt advice, obtained through sincere conversations, free of bitterness and vice. Talking also helps, and always try to write. Never hesitate to seek proper guidance. Heartbreak is dealt in many ways, but pain is never treated with silence. May these words all serve as a guide: when you close your heart to the world, you imprison yourself inside.

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