Back in December of 2012, I hiked up Mount Pickett on Orcas Island. While the trail up the mountain was clear, by the time I reached the summit, the ground was dotted with snow and ice. As I poured out some water for my dog Libby, I looked down and saw this beside my foot.
In the three months I lived on Orcas, I saw hearts all over the place, but this was the first one I’d seen made of snow. Thankfully, I snapped a photo before Libby inadvertently stepped on it and smooshed it beyond recognition.
I think of the frozen heart now, as my newsfeed is littered with an endless stream of Nazi bullshit. When confronted with that level of hatred and idiocy, it’s easy to go to a dark place in my head – a place of fury, retaliation, violence, and despair. But all that crap is useless. It demeans me. It turns me into my enemy. At the same time, it’s extremely difficult to watch the worst elements of our nation given validation and encouragement. The concept that “love trumps hate” seems to grow dimmer by the day.
But here’s the thing about choosing a noble path: it’s not always rewarded. Sometimes, we keep to the path simply because it’s the right thing to do. Even when cruelty and prejudice are vindicated, we continue to believe in love, respect, and unity. We hold onto the understanding that hatred and bigotry are wrong, and those who choose that route are cowards. And we have to do this without any expectation that love wins, because love doesn’t always win. Sometimes, the worst of the worst win, and that’s just the way it is. We bear witness to the tragedy of their victory, then continue to choose love.
That’s what I think the heart of snow is about, because today, although my heart feels frozen, I still choose love. I work to tamp down violent revenge fantasies, remembering that the angrier I get, the stupider I become (this is a neurological fact), and a grown woman shouldn’t accept behavioral cues from her brainstem. Those tiki-torch-carrying imbeciles think from their brainstems, which essentially makes them lizards…except that lizards have redeeming qualities.
So friends, in these dark times, please hold onto your hearts. Turn them to ice or stone if you need to, but don’t abandon them.
I’ll try my best to do the same.