For my Sunday workouts, when I lived down in LA, I used to hike this popular path going up a steep canyon. The hike itself was a joy and the views up were beautiful. Walking towards the park entrance, there was always some form of graffiti that would catch my eye. One in particular was the “Protect Your Heart” sidewalk stencil. I’ve taken numerous photos with it, angling my phone directly above it, in order to get the right shot of it flat and painted so boldly by my feet. The image has formed a memory of my time there. And the words really resonated with me, it was like a calling to my soul, yes, you too? you agree with me? I’ve been trying to protect my heart, from pain and people, and disappointment, and heartbreak. Ah so, all of us.
A few years after this, after my ex and I broke up, I thought about how bad it felt that I couldn’t be with him for reasons beyond my control. But I also felt terrible, once again, that he didn’t want to be with me for life.
A lot of what I felt with him was based on fears. Future fears. Real fears. I was scared of not knowing what was going to happen. Scared of the responsibility of finding someone again. Scared of feeling alone again and feeling lonely again. Scared of missing him severely, of no longer having him take care of me, having him think about me. Scared of losing him.
My reactions were always attempting to protect my heart out of fear. I wanted to hold it, put it in a box, love him from inside four walls. Tell him this isn’t working. Explain that I couldn’t make this work. Tell him to walk away. But that wasn’t what happened. I gave him my heart, handed him the box, and never took it back.
Recently, I read that the artist was trying to remind us to love ourselves, to connect spiritually, and to choose love. There shouldn’t be walls, or a box, or distance. Instead there will be love, and we will always choose love, for ourselves and to others.