Living With Your Heart and Mind Open

I’ve come to realize that it isn’t me that is mentally ill, it is that I choose to live in this world with my heart and mind open. I have chosen not to live with a wounded and closed heart, and living an intellectual existence is literally the only way I can stay sane. Unfortunately a by-product of these two choices means that each day has its ups and down as you make your way through the world and actively respond to a very extractive, exploitative, and often uncaring world of people who have their hearts and minds closed.

The world, especially life in the United States, makes sure that you know it is you with the problem, and it is up to you to shoulder the weight of the world each day. In my old age I’ve realized that this is capitalism, and it is how the wealthy and greedy obtain their unfair share, and extract value from others around them each day. I have learned that I am the way I am because of my environment. Living in a world where you see environmental catastrophe as the only future, you inevitably experience your day perpetually responding to this reality—we are a product of our environment.

I have had my heart broken in many ways. It would be easier to just shut down and close up. I have chosen not to. I really wanted to live. And I don’t just want to live. I have experienced what it is like to live with your heart fully open. It really is the only way I think living a life should be conducted. You just miss so much when you roll through life with a closed heart. You don’t see other human beings, and often just see monsters or enemies. You can’t see art. You don’t really experience music. Eventually you just stop feeling. I don’t want that. The problem is, you also have to live with a heightened sensitivity to all the pain, suffering, but also the joy and happiness.

There have lived in many intellectual deserts in my life. I can’t go back to ever being that thirsty. It took me until I was 30 to realize I required intellectual stimulation to literally survive. There is no going back. I have to read and write. I have to understand and explore. I need to be curious or I will lose my mind. The more I know, the more I realize how much I don’t know. The more I know, the more I see how ignorance is used manipulate all of us at scale. Reading, and turning off the TV and Internet is essential to not being a puppet in a very mindless world. I do not want to live In a world where I do not feed my brain, and will spend every moment I can learning about this amazing world I’ve found myself living in each day.

That emotional roller coaster I’ve attributed to my brain for the last 50 years is less about me, and more about my response to the world I live in. I am not mentally ill. I am just living in this world with an open heart and mind. You just can’t do that without side effects. There is no fixing me. I am not broken. I just have to remember the coping mechanisms that I have developed over the years, and maximizing art, music, and the other gifts we have in this world to keep myself balanced in a world that is rarely balanced. I got this. I just need to remember who I am and why I am here, and remember just how beautiful the world is when you leave your heart and mind open to take in what truly matters.