Hearts and Minds

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I just finished my first pass of High Voltage, the latest in the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning. Holy Hell, what an electric ride!  There is no way to absorb the whole book in one read. Dani’s and Rhyodan’s high voltage HEA blew me away. There is tremendous depth in High Voltage—at least four or five blogs worth. 

Today’s reflection is about the dichotomy of hearts and minds. The heart feels and the mind thinks. Sometimes, these two ways of understanding are in conflict and we must decide which to follow. I say it’s a decision, and maybe it is for some, but not so much for Dani. Or for me. Dani and I rely on our brains for the safety, protection, advancement and achievement that our minds represent to those like us. But for us (and I do love comparing myself to Dani, even if I’ll never be as “mega” as she is), it is our hearts we follow. Every. Fucking. Time. 

Mostly, that’s a good thing if we value experience over theory, reality over fantasy. Feeling is where it’s at. We can’t think ourselves into feeling. Except maybe fear. I know I can think my way into feeling afraid. That is when I use my cognitive powers for evil. Unfortunately, I can’t do the opposite—think myself into good feelings. Not really. I might be able to talk myself out of a bad mood or perhaps a poor decision by thinking through the choices instead of choosing the path of instant gratification. This is where I can use my mental powers for good, because I do so love immediate satisfaction. It feels delicious.  But— and isn’t there always a but—my brain understands that delayed gratification is often the better choice; my brain can override my heart in such circumstances. This is one instance where the mind knows best. But sometimes I can’t go there; sometimes the heart wants what it wants. Sometimes the heart has to have its desire. But, without our minds there would be no thought, and thought is the realm of imagination. The part of us that can embrace uncertainty: when everything is uncertain, anything is possible. I can’t conceive of a reality where there is only feeling and not thinking. My thoughts can often satisfy my soul.  My imagination builds worlds, solves problems and creates the conditions for evolution. This is another kind of truth. 

So, which is the real truth? My tag line is stolen from Walt Whitman and tells us that, “Whatever satisfies the soul is truth.”  I believe that. But it is hard to discern that which satisfies my soul. I’ve tried in many ways to feel, with every atom of my being, that sense of connection, of belonging, of rightness that tells me I’ve found ground truth, that which recognizes my truth, accepts it, embraces it and returns it to me with interest. That is what satisfies my soul. And sometimes that is intellectual and sometimes it is sensual. I think it’s a tie. It feels like a tie. 

In a world that eschews fifty-fifty and insists on sudden death to break ties, which is truth? Which wins, thinking or feeling? And, in this case, what does winning mean? I cannot choose. Which leaves me blessedly reduced to both/and. Without the need to ascribe majority percentages to the outcome. Does it matter which function—thoughts or feelings—has the 51%? Perhaps it is a fluid fraction insofar as I am concerned. Maybe in certain circumstances it is the mind that is ascendant and the heart which submits while in others it is the other way around?

Despite Dani’s keen intellect it’s her heart that blows me away; it’s just so vast. It’s her heart that fuels her fight against pure evil. Her heart that propels her to the superhero status of the truly “mega” variety. Dani becomes the savior of the fallen, the one who wrests victims from their predators and helps them find purpose after persecution. While her mind deals with the logistics, it is her heart that leads the way. 

And maybe that is the solution; perhaps it is our hearts that chart the path and our minds that enable us to follow. Sure, sometimes our hearts and minds get confused about who is in the general and who is the loyal lieutenant. Sometimes our minds take over and think they are in charge and lead us in different directions from which our hearts yearn to go. And that’s when we get fucked up. Trust me here, I speak from experience. 

Because when our hearts have been broken or have led us down a garden path to pain, we learn to ignore the dictates of our feelings; we heed our mind’s mandates. This is a mistake. I know this to be true.  And yet, I do it anyway. 

Because our hearts lead us to love. Every time. Not to lust and not to our damaged egos. The purity of our hearts leads to love. But our minds recoil because we’ve been burned by loss, by rejection or by choices we thought were heart-driven but were not. 

Our hearts are true. Our minds play games with us. For me, and for Dani, it’s hearts one, minds zero. Every. Fucking. Time.