Friday, May 4, 2012

The Miraculous Journey of Opening Your Heart

Besides blogging and writing, I also tutor children ages 6 – 10 during the week.  One of my students has been reading the book, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo since Easter break and we were finishing it up this week.

This book really got to me. It’s a story about a china rabbit named Edward Tulane, owned by a little girl named Abilene. She adored Edward and he took her love for granted. One day, as the family set sail to London, he was thrown overboard into the ocean by some kids bothering Abilene. From there, his journey began. He met people along the way; he found love, lost love and found it again. The moral of the story is that even the most broken heart can feel love again, if you open your heart and believe that, that love that is meant for you will find you.

There was one part of the story in particular that struck me so deeply. At this point of the story, Edward has been on this long journey and is broken after all of his experiences. He is in deep despair and does not want to love ever again. He has ended up in a doll store, sitting on a shelf. One day, an old doll is placed next to him and the conversation they have changes his life forever. Here’s the book excerpt (pgs 198 – 199):
The old doll said, “I wonder who will come for me this time. Someone will come. Someone always comes. Who will it be?”
“I don’t care if anyone comes for me,” said Edward.
“But that’s dreadful,” said the old doll. “There’s no point in going on if you feel that way. No point at all. You must be filled with expectancy. You must be awash with hope. You must wonder who will love you, whom you will love next.”
“I am done with being loved,” Edward told her. “I’m done with loving. It’s too painful.”
“Pish,” said the old doll. “Where is your courage?”
“Somewhere else, I guess,” said Edward.
“You disappoint me,” she said. “You disappoint me greatly. If you have no intention of loving or being loved, then the whole journey is pointless. You might as well leap from this shelf right now and let yourself shatter into a million pieces. Get it over with. Get it over with right now.”
The day the old doll was sold, her last words to Edward, as she was carried out of the store, were:
“Open your heart. Someone will come. Someone will come for you. But first you must open your heart.” (pg 201)
Just those words planted a seed in Edward’s heart, which caused his heart to start to open.

Often on our journeys, we get our hearts broken, not just by a significant other but by a loved one, friends, people in general. And we get so hurt to the point where the pain is so unbearable that we want to give up on love altogether. We close our hearts. I’m guilty of that. It's tough being single at my age, when all of my friends are either in a long committed relationship or married. I always wanted to have children and that has not happened yet either. For a long time, I kept wondering why I was not meeting that right person for me. I have had failed relationships where I gave my all and it did not work out. The pain was so great that I closed my heart for a long time. I felt that if I allowed myself to be open, I was also leaving the door open to pain, which I was tired of feeling. After being hurt so much, you begin to feel defeated, almost at a state of not caring anymore. You lose hope.

But what the old doll told Edward is so true…if you have no intention of loving or being loved, then the whole journey is pointless. We create our lives with the choices we make. When we choose to close our hearts, we are affecting our journey and preventing love from coming into our lives. Sometimes we will find love and we will lose love. The pain is not fun, as I am sure you know. But the pain will heal, if you don’t close your heart.

What I learned from my own experiences of finding love and losing it, is that there is always a lesson to be learned. Truth and pain tend to go hand in hand. When a situation turns bad, the truth is that it did not work out. But that truth actually empowers you because now you know and once you know, you have the power to make the decision on what to do next. Again, you create your life with the choices you make.

Too many times we blame that other person for hurting us but we also have to be accountable for our actions as well. Did we settle for someone that was not good for us out of loneliness? Did we turn a blind eye to someone's faults or ignored the alarms ringing in our heads? I have learned that if a person shows their true colors and you continue to stay with that person, then the fault lies with you. We must learn the lesson and move on. I have learned what I DON'T want in a significant other by past failed relationships. I have learned to trust myself more and that it is okay to make a mistake. It happens.

At the end of Edward Tulane’s story, love came full circle for him. And I believe that love is like that for all of us. We have to find love, lose love and then find it again to truly appreciate the meaning of love and to know what true love is. All the heartache and pain we suffer is a lesson on how to love and not take it for granted.

So the next time when thoughts of giving up on love or closing my heart enter my mind, I will think of the words of the old doll…”Someone will come. Someone will come for you.” Those words of faith and hope help keep my heart open. Edward sat in that doll shop for years and never gave up until love found him and came full circle. If you are like me and waiting for that someone to come, just know that love is out there and it will find you when the time is right. 

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