Wherever you go, appearances may be different but the life experience remains the same. The person who takes an in-depth journey becomes more and more sedentary. The number of destinations diminishes but the intensity of the experience increases. Within yourself, you possess life at its fullest. Embrace life at every moment and be thankful.

Secrets from the Heart:
The Heart of a Woman
By Élaine Drolet

There was a party today. My body turned four. People kept saying, “You’re so big… You’re a big girl now.” I oscillated between joy and fear, because the voices did not seem so sure about what kind of emotions should accompany the word big. I am not big or little, but only me. I am defined by what is happening in the present moment—and on this day there were quite a few moments. Let me explain.

When I awoke, I was calm and serene. I moved to the beat of a new day with my usual excitement as I thought about the adventure ahead. But suddenly I became upset, as if disturbed in my comfortable morning routine. I sensed a lot of movement around me, but little attention. I was cold, but nobody noticed.

“Eric, you’re the one who’s supposed to take care of the cake. I assume it’s too much to ask? As usual, I should have taken care of everything myself.”

“Everything? And who brings home the money to pay for the cake and all these extravagances to impress everyone?”

Tears came to my eyes and I let out a scream. It was like an outburst of worry. I felt as if I were to blame for my mother’s intolerance and my father’s exasperation. I felt constricted. “Mamaaaaaa! Where are you?” I yelled. “I’m busy downstairs,” she responded. “Why are you shouting so loud? Get up and come find us!”
My body obeyed, but I had to put up a protective barrier to hide my emotions. Mama already had enough to deal with, so it was best if I slipped away. My face displayed its biggest smile as I wrapped a cloak of indifference around my hurt feelings. Nobody noticed me.

Later, some guests arrived. There were many gifts. I came out from my barrier a little. I was not joyful, but filled with excited nervousness. A little while later, the party started. I didn’t really understand what was going on inside me. Everything was happening so fast. There were a lot of noise, exclamations, people waiting for a reaction—my mind was all over the place.

As soon as I felt a sense of joy, a desire for something else showed up. I felt gratitude, and then it quickly disappeared, replaced by excitement about receiving even more. Everyone seemed to be having a lot of fun, but I was not overwhelmed by joy so much as by a tsunami of vague feelings that did not seem to belong to me. Feeling low on energy and confused, my body continued to play the party role.

I did find some respite. My brother Jonathan probably understood what I was going through. While all the adults were busy talking amongst themselves, he made a sign for me to follow him. He took out my old doll and my stuffed animals and asked me if I would like to play with him. My heart returned to a normal, soothing rhythm. Recognition and gratitude returned, because my brother had given me love and time.

An aging body is peculiar—it becomes heavier and heavier. It is as if I could hear my heartbeat becoming fainter and fainter, lost in the physical sensations from the outside world. When my body was one year old, I felt like the center of the world. In fact, I felt the world from my center. It now feels as if the center has moved outside of me and that it watches me and tells me how to feel. Maybe this is what it means to “grow up”? That is, maybe the more the body expands, the more the heart shrinks. What an odd equation! In the end, I go back to playing with Jonathan. Since he is still small, he must know what I need to grow up.

Let the celebration continue!