My heart has been hibernating.
I’m not sure when exactly the long sleep started. It was not an intentional choice; there was not a specific moment where I decided to knock it unconscious and hide it away in a dark cave. Rather, it was a gradual numbing, a slowly drawn out decrescendo until its pulse faded from hearing.
But I am beginning to remember how it was done before I fell asleep.
I remember a little girl, 4 or 5 years old, captivated by musicals and passing the hours imagining herself swept up in song and dance.
I remember a 6 year old girl asking her parents for ballet lessons, in her mind thinking she’d better get started on learning to dance if she was ever going to be on Broadway.
I remember an 8 year old girl spending her spare time writing plays and trying to get all her classmates to act them out during recess.
I remember a 10 year old girl grinning from ear to ear as she gently touched the shiny flute in its velvety case, finally holding the instrument she had been waiting for years to play.
I remember the thrill of a 13 year old girl singing a solo for the first time – being all at once terrified and happier than ever.
I remember so wanting to sign up for a beginning art class as an elective in high school, but being too afraid because I had never been very good with visual art (plus everyone said the teacher was always mean to female students).
I remember my heart breaking as I sat through band and choir classes in a school that had no vision or funding or passion for a quality arts program.
There are countless snapshots in my memory. I could fill pages and pages because there was never a time when art and creativity were not a part of my life.
Several weeks ago, in several different settings, I listened to myself being described by others. Their words were positive. They accurately reflected strengths I do have. But there was not one mention of creativity, of music, of artistry – all the things that most intricately make up the fibers of who I am. I wasn’t upset at them, but I was jolted by a realization.
I have long stopped thinking of myself as an artist. And of course, no one else sees me this way; how could they when I have not seen me this way?
There are so many things contributing to this shift over the course of many years – disappointments, failures, closed doors, decisions I made, lies I believed – each one a powerful sleeping pill slowly sedating my heart.
But the composition of my heart has not changed, and the anesthesia is beginning to wear off. I am stirring, stretching, seeking what it is to feel awake and alive again.
Admittedly, this is a daunting moment – daring to believe it is not too late and mustering the courage to re-weave my life’s story. Is it even possible to change when you allowed your life to be steered down a far different trajectory?
I have to believe it. I do not want to journey through life with a sleep-walking heart. I want to be fully engaged, fully alive, fully on fire. This is the year for unlocking creativity and artistry again. This is the year for awakening.