I've been calling my new headphones a metaphor for my life. I do silly things like this. Sometimes I need something to hold on to, and I project all of my worries or musings or stresses onto an inanimate but tangible object. These unimportant possessions take on supreme importance, and for now, my outlook is quite wrapped up in the headphones. I'd wanted something like them for a long time, but they were a luxury I wasn't affording myself. Then, suddenly, I found myself in need of headphones! But rather than rush to buy what I'd had my heart set on, my practical side set out to arguing them away.
If you know me in person, you're probably very acquainted with my logical side. I can be pragmatic to a fault. I take all of the things that appeal to me on a heart level, and I tuck them into an "imagined self". I realized, in the deepest way, what I call imaginary is more real, just trapped. What I'd put in her place was a version of myself that I'd created based on extraneous expectations, opinions, and a general cultural leaning toward "what is the right thing to do." A few weeks ago, it was headphones; but this thought process has also taken me through some of life's biggest decisions.
Every once in awhile, I fight off the false version, and I tap into my heart's desire. I bought the headphones. I wear them when I take walks around the neighborhood and I feel a little more alive--almost like I'm a bit more who I am supposed to be.
I had my wedding rings cleaned recently, and I must admit, they are awfully sparkly, especially if caught under certain lighting. A woman at the salon grabbed my hand as I paid for my haircut four Wednesdays ago. She commented, at first, admiringly; and then, like she thought the stack on my finger ostentatious. Truly, I have small hands, and what I wear on my ring finger now creeps up to my knuckle. I found myself wondering what this woman thought of me in that moment. Did she think us very rich? Or perhaps me demanding? Materialistic? Flashy?
I desperately wanted to tell her the story of each little piece upon my hand. How almost exactly nine years ago now, a young boy scraped together everything he could possibly afford to give to buy a secondhand ring for the girl he loved. How, at the trunk show, the salesperson failed to dazzle them with newer versions of shiny things, and let it go when the girl told the boy, "I don't care what it looks like. I just want to get married." She said she'd never heard a couple exchange that sentiment while ring shopping before.
Just before the wedding, the groom realized there was a mistake with the wedding band, the one he'd meticulously chosen to accompany the ring he'd worked so hard for. He moved heaven and earth to correct the mistake and get the right band to the church on time.
In two years time, the first baby was on the way, and the girl struggled with her pregnancy. As her fingers swelled beyond what those two precious rings could contain, the groom surprised her with a larger band--a replica of her wedding ring--to wear instead. "Wear them all together when you can," he said, because their family was growing and so was the love.
There was the heartbreak--twice--when the poor setting on the engagement ring failed. She lost two diamonds that way, and then refused to wear the ring anymore for fear of compromising the it again, beyond what the insurance would cover. At that point, the boy offered time and again to upgrade to something new. But she didn't like that idea, couldn't part with the token and what it meant.
So he took it and he had something else made from its pieces. Now what's there is what always was, just reimagined and rearranged a little. Like life.
I have tried to have my mind on the heart of things. I have tried to avoid the temptation to make decisions based on only what I can see or what I've heard. Sometimes, the beauty on the face is something toiled over and embedded with much more important meaning. Sometimes the beautiful thing had no thought behind it--but that is freedom, because the heart led, because still at its root is something truer than the labored decisions.
Lately, I have struggled through my affinity for storytelling. In the grand scheme of things, it has felt petty or unnecessary. Not that I have to change the world, but I have often thought, "Who is it helping?" Probably, that's something I will continue to wrestle with; but in appreciating little joys and little lessons, in opening myself up to the connectedness of everything, I am finding that story is what we are built up on.
"There is a reason for everything" is so much more than a substitute for uncertainty. There is a reason for jewelry and pretty headphones, as much as there is a reason a mother stays home laying on the floor with an infant, feeling insignificant and simultaneously like the greatest goddess to grace the earth. From what we feel to what we touch and how we see the world, each interaction holds within it the importance we give it.