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QUINTESSENCE

The Heart is Wide


The world stands out on either side
No wider than the heart is wide;
Above the world is stretched the sky, -
No higher than the soul is high.

- Edna St. Vincent Millary, "Renascence," 1912

These lines by St. Vincent Millay are curious in that they speak to a simple truth - our world is shaped by the lives we live within it. A world as wide as the heart and as high as the soul. The poet reminds us we are essentially self-centric creatures: we live subjectively within the boundaries of ourselves. Interestingly, that means the world measures differently for each of us. Your world is not shaped as mine. There is no objective measure of this singular universe save the wholly personal measure of our own lives within a parenthesis in time.

If I think about that a moment, I observe that on some days the world changes shape on me. A day started with a hug offers more heart, perhaps. Another time more soul than heart. How wide the possibilities, how high the sky. Life varies with the expanse of my own perspective as I bounce around within the borders of my inner limitations and definitions. Lately, focused as I have been on the slow machinery of a bureaucratic drawbridge parting between someone I love and their future, I witnessed the world narrow. That one drawbridge came to symbolize a critical link in the grand scheme of things. And yet, as I've questioned my anxiety about these events, and reluctantly opened myself to the "perhaps" that is a "grander plan than as yet envisioned," I've felt the world once again widening. Widening as the soul expands, stretching faith into the furthest outreaches of possibility.

My puddle today feels wide and shallow. Much heart, constricted soul. On another day, perhaps it will reflect back to me something narrow and deep. A world of unlimited spirit, hungry on love. On a good day the world will expand full of heart and unlimited potential - an abundance of love and expression. A vista of grand expanse. What seems true is that this world is gently shaped by our innermost hearts and souls, and the translation this makes within us as we navigate our days. We follow our dreams and fight for our futures, dance with the ones we love, and the world changes as we do.

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