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January 31, 2006

Carving a Heart

The old, light-blue beetle chugged up the hill on highway 17 towards Santa Cruz. It was in the slow lane with a surfboard strapped to the roof and both windows wound all the way down. A left arm rested on the window sill. The bumper sticker read, "TOO SLOW, TOO BAD".

I was overtaking in my silver Audi A4. I looked at the beetle and at the bumper sticker. My face lit up with a smile: oh the sweet simplicity, I thought. I then looked down at the passenger seat. The light-grey leather transformed into mid-blue cloth; I was in the beetle. I could feel the vibrations, and hear the wind noise. I looked back up at the road. My dashboard was that of the beetle, and the skinny sixties steering wheel was in my hands.

A carved wooden heart hung from the rear view mirror. It was palm-size and made of a dark wood. It was in the traditional symbolic heart shape and was three dimensional and curved, like an overstuffed cushion. Its surface was rough and covered with chisel grooves, each about an eighth-of-an-inch in width. The grooves were in patterns similar to those of a finger print.

As I looked at the heart, I remembered carving it. A feeling of immense love came into my chest. I realized that of the things in the world, if any of them matter, it's those things which we make using the love of our heart.

I was crying when I arrived in Aptos to have my session with Barry Vissell. I told him about the car and the heart. As I was telling him, I felt a massive amount of energy rise up into my chest. I could hardly speak. It felt like there was an enormous balloon being inflated inside; it was expanding love. I told Barry this; he said: it can also feel like a fountain. That was sometime in 2004.

I was at my mum's house in London in late 2005 and I was talking with Barry on the phone about the divorce. I was finding it hard to let go of Izzy. I realized that letting go of her is just like jumping off a rock.

In the summer of 2005, I had been on a river rafting trip with Barry and Joyce on the Klamath River in California. We hiked from the main river to a place where you could jump from a cliff into an ice-cold tributary. I remembered standing on a granite ledge in the sun, looking down into the clear, icy water. I remembered being unable to move. Part of me wanted to jump, while another part of me didn't. The part that didn't want to jump was scared. I realized that until I fully accepted the part of me that was scared, my body wouldn't move. Our whole being has to jump in, including the scared parts.

That day, I jumped from a high ledge with Barry on one side and his son, John-Nuriel, on the other side. It was very special having them jump with me; Barry is a model for me. Once I was fully committed, and flying through the air, it was exhilarating. And then I hit the cold water and went deep before swimming back, against the strong current, to the rock.

And so Barry said, "What's the worst case scenario?" And I replied, "I could move back to the Bay Area and then something could happen, like I could get really sick or loose my job. I could then run out of money. And maybe Callum might hate me for leaving the UK. And I could move back to England. I could live in a council flat. Perhaps I wouldn't have a job and perhaps I'd have no money or family or friends. I guess I could go for walks and do carving and write and meditate." I paused, and I then I started laughing, "That's the worst case scenario! And it's not even a realistic worst-case scenario, it's totally unrealistic! And I'd get all that free time to just enjoy being me." And Barry said, "No schedules, no pressures." And I said, "Yeah! Just carving away with my chisels and my pen." I was totally elated. He said, "You don't need the worst case scenario, just get the chisels."

I have to jump off the rock anyway. And the worst case scenario makes me laugh. And so all I need to do is accept every part of myself, including the parts that are scared.

And that is what carving a heart is really about.

For development of this theme, see Nothing Else.

"Yes it is Duncan! Every part! Congratulations!" — Barbara

"Sometimes I just read what you write and sit in amazement for a few minutes taking it in. And I am speechless; as if every cell of my body is receiving what you wrote and remembering. Thank you." — Trish


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