How Much Can a Heart Hold?

“Nobody has ever measured even poets, how much a heart can hold.”

—Zelda Fitzgerald

The depth of our compassion and resiliency exceeds our expectations. We see evidence every day.

The stories we tell come from a place deep inside our mind and heart. They represent what we value most and where our passions hold us captive.

Always one looking for a great read, Medium provides a feast that offers a taste of the world for every palette. The platform shares words that matter without ads or pop-ups. Nothing distracts the reader from what matters most—stories.

In the past several weeks, I discovered how much a heart can hold in stories that inspire and educate. After all, learning comes in all forms, and stories can give us both.

“Storytelling is not something we do. Storytelling is who we are.”
—Carmine Gallo

The Storytellers

There Is No Secret Ingredient

Amy Marley shares a lesson from the movie “Kung Fu Panda.” The main character, Po, discovers that “the answer is within you.”

“Po’s qualities, his dreams, his goals, his passions, his positivity, his willingness to make the best of his situation all led him to make his dreams a reality.

A reality more beautiful than he ever imagined.”

How often do you search for what will make you whole? You miss the beautiful reality in yourself.

Amy tells a wonderful story that spills over with her love for her daughter. She shares the wisdom we can find in children’s books and movies. The stories weave inspiration and hope onto the screen for us to learn.

Tales from the Underground

Mystery and intrigue create a perfect backdrop for Joe Luca’s thought provoking tale.

A single sentence written on a subway wall carries a message. The words implore you to consider the impact of life’s choices.

“I wish I was, what I was, when I wanted to be, what I am now.”

I’ve often thought about what I would change in my life, if I could live it over. A couple of poor choices come to mind first, but the rest?

Who I am today would not be the same if I changed even one second or one decision. We don’t have the luxury of living life backward.

Perhaps that is as it should be.

When Your World Comes to a Standstill

You never know what life’s circumstances will call you to do. Dawn-Renee Rice tells the story of how she had to make sense of life’s sudden changes.

A family emergency thrust her into a role for which she had never planned.

“I had to quit my job and put my business and life on hold indefinitely to raise my then three-year-old twin grandsons with special needs.”

Dawn teaches us two important lessons about grief and living for today.

  1. Grief doesn’t only happen when someone dies.

“It also happens when something dies — your way of life, your belief system, your relationships with your family and friends, or your business and career goals.”

  1. Live in the moment.

“As I entered their world, I saw life from a different perspective. It’s a life that allows for being instead of doing.”

I know that feeling of anger and disappointment. Putting your life on hold to be the caregiver and support for those you love, changes everything.

But Dawn gives us hope and encouragement

“Love yourself and love others. Forgive yourself and forgive others. Serve yourself and serve others.”

Fear of an Unfulfilled Life. Can Freedom Be the Antidote?

Desiree Driesenaar doesn’t fear death. She fears an unfulfilled life. Before I read the first sentence, her sub-title grabbed my attention.

I thought of the poem that opens Dawna Markova’s book, I Will Not Die an Unlived Life. She wrote the poem following the death of her father. The book tells the story of how Dawna found her true and best self.

Living Wide Open: Landscape of the Mind

I will not die an unlived life.
I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
more accessible;
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance,
to live so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom,
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes as fruit.

Desiree takes us on a journey to discover the simple lives of birds. They can inspire us to look at the mundane moments of our lives.

“From my kitchen window, I watch a tiny bird disappear into the large pink bush. A bigger blackbird follows into this inner sanctuary. A twig in his orange beak.

Imagine how safe they will feel. Winding branches to sit on. Leaves, bracts, and everywhere fragrant pink flowers. Safety.”

I too fear living an unfulfilled and unlived life. I used to think that living a fulfilled life required lots of doing and constant busyness.

But I think that’s wrong. Fulfillment comes in the small moments of being yourself and sharing yourself.

Can the big things make an impact? Yes. Most of us won’t have the world as our stage. When we focus too much on how far we can reach into the world, we miss the bird sitting on the windowsill.

Desiree closes her story with shattered glass and a trickle of blood. She falls and lands unceremoniously on her kitchen floor.

“Roaring laughter! My body shakes with it.

One brazen knock on the window and the little birds fly from the bush.

Out of their comfort zones. Away from safety. Towards freedom.

Surpass fear, little birds. Fly! Fly free!”

Lessons from History Most People Are Neglecting

In a deeply moving narrative, Max Phillips, shares his insights and reflections. He teaches how literature preserves our history and the lessons we should not forget.

Max reminds us that 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II. And, the liberation of Auschwitz occurred on January 27, 1945. Few survivors are still alive, but we owe them, and all those who survived and perished, to remember.

“Survivors left us a record of the atrocities that comprised the Nazi’s “Final Solution.”

Viktor Frankl gave us Man’s Search for Meaning.

Elie Wiesel records in his memoir, Night . “Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, that turned my life into one long night,”

Max recounts his visit to Auschwitz, a haunting remembrance of tragedy and inhumanity. Having visited the Memorial Holocaust Museums in Houston and Washington DC, I understood. His words seared into my heart.

Their spirits seem to linger in the walls — an uncomfortable place to be.

Max asks, “What will we learn during this pandemic?”

“2020 is certainly going to be a year for the history books. In the years to come, perhaps we will reflect on what is happening now. Even better, we learn from it. Society must continually analyze its mistakes to move forward.”

We must not forget the hard-learned lessons from the past or the ones facing us this very moment.

More Storytellers

Each day, I learn how much the heart can hold from a diverse and caring community of writers. They share their longing for a better world. With courage, each writer tells a story, their story. We learn, feel, and become more today than we were yesterday. These are only a few of the writers who help me become better every day.

Paul Myers, KeepingItRealWithAnnick, Dr Mehmet Yildiz, Dipti Pande, George J. Ziogas, Rasheed Hooda, Livia Dabs, George J. Ziogas, Ryan Justin , Chris Hedges, René Junge, Julia E Hubbel, Henery X (long), Pia Barna, Gillian May, Selma, and so many more . . .

And always—

Be kind. Be brave. Be you.

Photo: © Kathryn LeRoy