Tuesday, November 21, 2006

What the Heart Sees

"It is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye."

- Antoine de Saint-Exupery (The Little Prince)

Each of us intuits the world in our own way. We interpret the world through the lens of personal experience, a lifetime of impressions, interactions, predjudices, successes and failures. Often what we feel in our hearts seems more relevant and real than what we can see with our eyes. But if you can't always believe what you see, can you always believe what you feel?

For the two weeks that my father has grappled with an array of life-threatening ailments, I have struggled to reconcile what I see with what I feel. From a heart attack, to acute renal failure, to arrythmia, to this and to that my father's body has been assaulted and assailed. The opponent he engages with is not foreign, not outside himself, it is himself. His Empire is not threatened by forces beyond his borders but with an internal struggle, the outcome of which is uncertain. But in the end, all Empires fall.

I know from personal experience that most of my wounds are self-inflicted ones. I am my own worst enemy. It is on the tip of my tongue to say that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, that I am my father's son, a chip off the old block, but I can't. With free will comes freedom of choice. For better or for worse. Who am I to say that someone's choices are right or wrong for them? What is wrong for me may well be the best choice for them. And what is right for me may not work for someone else.

I am rarely a casual observer of life. I am a critical, judgemental son of a bitch. I have an opinion about nearly everything, and if I don't, give me five minutes and I'll give you one. And while I want intellectually to say that my father finds himself in his current predicament because of his own actions and his own actions alone, I feel in my heart that it isn't quite that easy. In life we often conspire against ourselves and our own best interests. We don't always do the right thing, make the smart choice, take the right path.

To paraphrase Frank Sinatra and Paul Anka, you have to do it your way, regrets and all.


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