Cashiering is by its nature repetitious. This is part of the reason why we have all encountered so many mechanical, robotic cashiers. Some people just absolutely have what it takes – they are naturally good with people and this applies to their cashiering. But even most of these “naturals” can sometimes succumb to the hypnosis of the cash register.
Perhaps the most powerful antidote for this hypnosis (or for any boring or stressful job) – and a recipe for a rich, fulfilling life – is to pay attention to the longings of your heart. The heart longs for connection, for intimacy, for rich emotions, to nurture and be nurtured, for wholeness, for authenticity, for self-expression, for spontaneity, for tenderness, for love. What will foster these qualities? What makes the heart happy?
Longings of the heart can be immediate/real-time (what right now will most support the qualities listed above) or overriding – longings that are so central and important that they hover over our daily lives looking for opportunities to be expressed. Real-time expression of the heart’s longings can be lofty or quite mundane.
Yesterday at work my heart longed to write. I was depressed – I needed to transcend my immediate pain and I needed to affirm a higher part of me (my writer). And I needed to come to grips with a real-time quandary: I had chosen to work at register 5, which I hate because it is too busy. Asking myself the question “Am I in the right place at the right time?” allowed me to approach my quandary in a useful way. Writing in my head, jotting little notes, writing furiously during my breaks allowed for this.
At the end of my shift, as I asked myself “What is the best thing I can do to counter the depression that has been even more throttling me since, 2/3 of the way through the day, I finished outlining my blog post? The answer was clear and immediate: “I need to tell a particular coworker that I enjoyed working with her today.” In my current depressed state, this act – which would be easy when I was up – felt almost unattainable. If I don’t do it, depression wins. If I do it, my heart wins. Fortunately, this one my heart won.
Sometimes the longing of the heart is to protect you from a painful or toxic experience. My friend Jeff, an extremely talented singer/songwriter, was (is at this moment) having a CD release concert. I love his shows, when I’m up. When I’m this depressed I hate concerts. When I’m this depressed I hate music. Taking care of my heart tonight means protecting myself from an experience that would almost certainly be painful for me. This was made easier because my heart was also crying out to write this post.
There’s a reason that writing this post is so important for me tonight – because it cues up some writing for tomorrow night (after a shift at the grocery store) that is of crucial importance for me. The reason that heart longings are so much on my mind today is that one of my overriding longings is very active. And that is to strengthen and enrich my relationship with my 38 year old son.
His 39th birthday is Sunday – and I have been agonizing over how to celebrate it. I’m not satisfied with the card or gift card I sent him. There’s one gift that could really hit a home run.
He and I have an ongoing project of me writing lyrics (poetry) for some electronic songs he has created. The project lay dormant for a long time after he proposed it to me. I was honored and thrilled that he would want to collaborate with me – and intimidated by writing poetry to go with music and deeply fearful of letting him down. (I carry a heavy feeling that I have let him down a lot in his life.) And the paralysis this engendered did cause him to feel let down.
But a few weeks ago I did write him some poetry to go with the themes of his first track, as he related them to me. He told me right away that he liked what I had written. Last Sunday he told me that he had read the poetry again, liked it – and wanted more. I told him I knew that what I had written was incomplete – and that I would get on it.
I want to write my son some more poetry! Getting closer to him is one of the deepest longings of my heart – and right now writing this poetry is a golden opening. I want to do it by Sunday – like tomorrow. But I’m too depressed to write poetry – at least that’s what a big part of me believes. I tried it earlier in the week and sat staring blankly at the computer. I’ve been writing all week, am writing now, but I tell myself that this is basically journal writing – that I am transcribing notes I have accumulated during the day.
This is why it has been so important for me to focus all day on the longings of my heart – and to write about it tonight. I want, tomorrow night, for the longings of my heart to win out over depression. I commit to you, my readers, that tomorrow night I will write some poetry for my son. There is a part of me screaming that it won’t happen, but I intend for that part not to win. I won’t rely on brute force of will. I have some strategies to increase my chance of success, which I will share tomorrow – after I succeed.