The Life of the Heart

life of the heart

As we are often reminded by that nudging, that jerking of the heart just when we’ve erected our walls of rationale, we need our hearts just as much as we need our minds. For when our theories leave us cold and lonely inside ourselves, only the warmth of another will be able to break through the mist and darkness. It is very telling that when we usually utter phrases like, ‘I don’t need her,’ we are doing it with contempt for the truth of exactly the opposite. We do need one another! A man who lives merely by the theories of his mind is a man who lives alone with a callused heart hardened by the illusion of his self-sufficiency and crumbling under the weight of his autonomy.

Yet, the heart will not only show us a new light by which we may see all things with a different perspective, but it will also give us the warmth and intimacy that we intrinsically crave. And though our love resonates from within us, when we love we are allowed to come outside ourselves into the world where our heart is able to direct its affection toward another. Our selfishness is then defeated by our love allowing us to see the world through others, for whom we choose to make life a bit more radiant. 

Love empowers! Love redeems! Love conquers! And so, the heart moves us in ways that the mind simply cannot. As the noted 18th century Scottish political activist, Andrew Fletcher stated,

“Let me write the songs of a nation. I don’t care who writes its laws.”

Love is a catalyst for change toward a better world. We can present argument after reasonable argument to the mind. If the heart is not ready to accept a truth, it will not be accepted.

Love is very powerful. It is beyond measure as the most influential of all means by which a world can change. Consider the words of the apostle, Paul,

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

The heart is a necessary aspect of a complete life. Without it, all else is futile. Again, consider the words of the apostle, Paul,

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.”

Yet, any world with full affection and nothing else is also a failure, merely a Shakespeare tragedy awaiting the grim climax of the imminent descent into sublime sorrow, a sprint towards the edge of the cliff wearing a blindfold. If love is the catalyst for our actions, we are in a good place. But, should we just accept the popular maxim by the Beatles that “all you need is love”? Love is important, but we need more than love. We need to be careful to consider justice before we love someone to death. Should we love to the point of falsifying information for someone we know is a mass murderer, for example? Should we love to the point of keeping a straight face in light of our loved ones committing adultery? We need to love, but we can’t love more than necessary to uphold justice also. For when love is the only virtue, shortly thereafter surely the world is at its end.

Is the Heart Enough?

The heart may give us warmth and meaning, but is it enough? Will it complete a life to love in warm ignorance? What of the nobility of wisdom? Should we love and only love without the treasure of wisdom, we’d drown ourselves in the idiocy of our affections. The heart may allow us the possibility of most meaning in life, yet without the mind, it can not actualize that meaning in any tangible sense. And to know why the heart matters at all, requires the facets of the mind. And so, the heart is also incapable of being the only viable means to a complete life. And were we to even combine the mind and the heart, something would be missing still.

Part 1 – The Life of the Mind | Part 3 – The Life of the Soul