When Your Heart Is Not ‘in the right place’

Sometimes you don’t feel like writing or creating in any way at all. Your ‘heart’ is not ‘in the right place. For me this ‘heart’ seems to reside in my belly, my gut, and, though it remains in the same place, when I don’t feel ‘right’, i.e. don’t feel like writing or creating, then that ‘heart’ doesn’t feel the way it should, it doesn’t feel the way it does when I am happy and content.

It’s at those times when I might be prone to write about my pain, but I resist that, usually, because I know that others are in greater pain. I try to take responsibility for the way I feel and not blame others or my circumstances, which, I know, I am currently seeing as it were in a dim light, but which are in fact fabulously privileged.

Recently, like many of my friends and colleagues, most of them artists, I have experienced a big disappointment regarding my political aspirations and beliefs. I don’t want my Blog to become a political and partisan Blog, but here I am thinking about the ways in which we all might want to rebel, revolt, refuse and resist that with which we disagree. And yet to do so is to enter into conflict, whereas peace and contentment are our ultimate ideal.

It certainly feels like, in small personal disputes or large political battles, a higher mind leads us out of conflict and into peace. Perhaps that is why we sometimes have to accept disappointments and things and people with whom we disagree. It is in this acceptance that we cultivate peace for ourselves and peace in the world as a desirable property or condition.

Acceptance doesn’t necessarily mean surrender or a betrayal of our own beliefs and aspirations. Acceptance may in fact provide the bedrock on which to build a long-term, unemotional response to our disappointment and our immediate sense of resentment.

Both this acceptance and the principle of taking responsibility for the way we feel seem crucial to cultivating our highest mind and our best path through life. It won’t suffice to simply blame the blamers and hate the haters. Others may appear to be victorious and to win what they want through mendacious and ignoble strategies, but that doesn’t mean that we should try to emulate them. To do so would only be to transport our own ethical construction on to another’s sandy foundations.

We can write and create, even when our ‘heart’ is not ‘in the right place’, and we can write and create when we feel bad or ‘not right’. But at those times we should avoid emotional outbursts that are crude and unconsidered. It’s always more useful, to ourselves and to the world to carefully channel our emotions and to slow our pace so as to give the best of our selves, to ourselves and to our work and to others – if that doesn’t sound too pious.

Donna Haraway is strongly associated with the term ‘staying with the trouble’ which became the title of one of her books. I am just working my way towards her writing, though many of my students and colleagues swear by her work. Here, I just want to use her phrase as a slogan to further illustrate what I mean in this week’s Blog post.

‘Trouble’ for me here means any kind of discomfort or distress, and ‘staying with’ trouble means not running away from it into blame, into anger, into irresponsible and hasty acts, but rather channelling trouble as an energy into some kind of creative and constructive form that becomes useful to self, to others and to the world rather than allowing unfettered trouble to become even more painful and destructive.


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