Contact

A few nights ago, I awoke at two in the morning covered in sweat. Uncomfortable enough to do something about it, I went upstairs to turn on the AC and stumbled down the hallway, the urge to get back into my bed overwhelming as always. But this time, as I walked past the back door, I was abruptly drawn to go outside and look at the stars.

Despite the strong pull, I had to stop for a moment. Was it safe out there when I was home alone? It is easy for me to feel alone in the middle of the night, even with someone sleeping close by. What was lurking in the dark? Ever since a nightmare I had years ago of a mysterious, malicious man coming at me in the night towards my house, it was difficult to not be scared of being in that doorway, let alone walk through it.

Once I shook myself out of the dazed sleepwalk, I quickly became aware of how silly this was. It was a beautiful, clear night and I’d be a fool to not enjoy it, if only for a moment.

I sat on the deck stairs, the air soft from land that emitted heat of the summer sun. I live right behind a highway, and it had never felt as still and quiet as it did then. I could feel the world sleep, and for the first time it brought peace instead of loneliness.

Suddenly something caught my attention, a flash of light in my left field of vision. I turned towards it, thinking it was a shooting star that I had missed, and I saw it again, this time as just a flash. “Hi!” I called out happily. Right then, a huge meteor flew across the sky. I laughed with a giddy lightness, and smiled at the thought of a small, grey alien with those giant characteristic eyes casting a stone across the waters of Earth’s sky to meet my salutation. It felt a lot like Interstellar, when Cooper tries to deliver a message to his daughter across time and space through a medium that surpasses all realms of our current understanding. Whatever was out there, I felt warmth and company in the light-polluted dampness of night.

  Upon reflection of the moment, the feeling of soft support and company was strange, given that it was scary to go outside alone in the dark in the first place. Once coming back inside, I realized my basement was more spooky than my backyard. The yard had a horizon that I forgot about, a backdrop with pinholes of light from other worlds calling out. It was a cramped space that I hid in that made me feel safe. Outside, I felt love and wonder. I questioned if people would change if they were forced to sleep under the night sky again. It’s strange to think that although we’re afraid to go out there due to exposure, it is actually more embracing and kind than the box we keep ourselves locked up in for comfort.

Contact with boundaries internal and external are necessary, breaching thresholds that harbor love and wonder, the sky a symbol of the frontiers of our minds, our psyche. External boundaries may even mirror internal ones, and so crossing one reciprocates the other. As they say “As above, so below, as within, so without, as the universe, so the soul…”  –Hermes Trismegistus 

It is not just about putting ourselves out there just so we don’t excessively shelter ourselves. It is about making contact with the divine, whatever that may be for each of us. It’s about looking out and wondering what is looking back, and what they see. It is about feeling the softness of our frontiers, not just their occasional harsh, unforgiving nature. Despite whatever lies in their crossing, the ultimate is love and compassion.

I walked back down stairs to my bed, forgetting to turn on the light to the staircase, holding on tightly to the railing when I judged the last step. When I got to the bottom, I felt it level, and walked off onto trustworthy ground.

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Embracing the Intellect of the Heart

   In our society, there is an enigmatic taboo that leads many to distrust what they’re instincts tell them to do, where to look, how to be, etc. Sometimes for good reason, but sometimes in excess. From a very young age, all we want is to be accepted, or perhaps to at least be considered “acceptable” in some way if you were not someone who cared what others thought. Either way, we have all struggled to meet a standard at some point in our lives. This is how we’re guided to follow the grain from square one, until we come to a point in our maturity where we completely forget we are following something external at all and are tricked into thinking everything we want and strive for is related to our authentic selves, or true purpose. It is because of this that we sometimes stray away from what we are intuitively pulled towards by the heart, and replace it with our mental constructs and external ideas.

Over time, I’ve been lead to the idea that the heart has an intellect that either no one knows or no one acknowledges. To many, this statement might be very confusing because we’ve made the very definition of the word ‘heart’ to serve as an antonym for the word ‘intellect’. Perhaps this is a symptom of living in separation of the two: “Use your head” or “Follow your heart” we say. We seem to use one or the other depending on the situation. But what if we merged these two concepts together, and used them at the same time? What happens then?

   Personally, I have found that I’ve used my heart to figure out where my mind is supposed to go, upon which my mind takes over and synthesizes what its given. Then, it would be my heart’s duty to feel out the conclusions I’ve drawn, and so on. It goes back and forth in an ebb and flow continuously. In rare instances, I find the two coalesce, like two bodies in space that circle around one another until gravity finally leads them to join in an epic blaze of light and color. They become the same thing essentially, that is what I meant by there being “an intellect to the heart”, which opposes the separation the two concepts.

Two white dwarf stars orbiting each other every 5 minutes.

Photograph courtesy NASA/Tod Strohmayer (GSFC)/Dana Berry (Chandra X-Ray Observatory)

 

The result of this has always been interesting. I’ve come up with my best ideas and produced my best work in these states. But for whatever reason, I see many people not trusting the way they feel, and rely on what they see, or vice versa. I can’t help but notice that we as a society live in a sort of disconnect that keeps us from reaching our full potential, truthfully in many ways apart from what I’ve even discussed so far.

But allow me to diverge for a moment, because I have something I wish to convey.

   I truly believe that certain instances call for you to act on your instinct rather than what is customary. The right thing to do just might be the opposite of what your mind advises. For example, life-changing inventions and problem solving skills generally require an “out of the box” method of approach, as we like to call it. Well, what is this vague “out of the box” thing people speak of? I am no expert but logic would lead me to believe that it involves avoiding the perception that is no longer providing any solutions to the problem, and what most likely lead to the problem in the first place (a rewording of the well known quote by Albert Einstein “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them”).

   Sometimes we seem to think that something needs a lot of thought and intellectualization, which is likely a product of our education. However, you may inadvertently think yourself into a box that will not lead you anywhere beyond what you can see. A problem may call for a solution that requires a completely different angle of approach. I have found a method that works for me to avoid this trap. It is one simple statement: ‘I know that I don’t know’. It is known as the Socratic Paradox, where one knows that they know nothing. It is possible to have conclusions come out of this approach that are not entirely accurate, but at least it comes from an honest place that lacks any bias that may steer me away from the truth. It’s a good start is all I’m saying. And truth is so subjective that I really can’t ever say anything with complete certainty as we all have our own truth, with threads of validity woven through it all. But when I am listening to someone preach something or share their opinion, I now always ask myself this:  “Where did they begin with the creation of that belief?”

In starting with “I know that I don’t know”, I’m choosing to be careful about contaminating my own understanding with someone or something else’s (which is probably already riddled with mistruths because I’ve never known anyone to approach life in such a clean-slate way).

I can hear everyone’s thoughts right not at this point. They say “But Kerry, what does this even have to do with what you were saying in the beginning with the heart nonsense?”

Calm down, I’m bringing it home.

   Perhaps for some of history’s game changers, the “out of the box” notion is disguised as this moment where the idea of the head and the heart connects, creating the capacity to reach conclusions that could not be made otherwise. Its a sort of reaching out of the five senses, with knowledge previously gained guiding the way, and the willingness connect to something greater than yourself or what you already know.

   If we are to be guided by a true purpose, or wish to live a life of authenticity, we must challenge preconceived notions, understand where it is that they come from, and in doing so, open up to the intellect of the heart.

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Featured image credited to Jacob Jugashvili