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If I Can Stop One Heart From Breaking...

Emily Dickinson's poetry has always had a huge impact on me, my life, and even my writing. In high school, her words gave me permission to explore the depths of my own heart and dive deep into sensitive themes in my work, and when I was ill, her words were a balm, the anthology on my bedside table an anthem through my recovery. Her famous poem, "If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain," became a sort of motto--a guiding star and moral compass through which I chose to navigate my life. 

Over my many years, I've battled with myself--lamenting that I wasn't doing enough, being enough. I placed the weight of the world on my shoulders and gathered responsibility for others like it was my right. My empathetic heart wanted more than anything to ease the world's pain, and in my naivete, I tried. 

I will always wish for the easing of pain, the releasing of fear, and the revelation of love on this planet, but I've also learned a thing or two along this journey... 

I've learned that everyone has their journey, including me, and that I can only live one life, my own. I've learned that experiences aren't punishments but lessons, and that while I can comfort, support, and love, I can't interfere with or control the path that someone is taking--I can only control my own, and not even that. I've learned that surrender and acceptance along with conscious choices all go hand-in-hand in the evolving sacredness of our human experience. In this, I've learned to hold another's heart in my hands gently, softly, lovingly without forsaking my own. I've learned, and am still learning, how to love with clearer eyes of faith. 

Paraphrasing another beautiful poem by Warsan Shire, there are still times I want to run my fingertips over the atlas of the world and ask it where it hurts, and when it says "everywhere," I want to pour out my heart so the whole world is engulfed by love, so it sees how beautiful it is. Maybe if we all did that, the world would feel better. 

Maybe if we also pour into each other, the world will find peace.

Maybe if we also pour into ourselves, we'll understand that our hearts matter, too. 


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