The Bottle

If you don’t have your heart, you won’t be yourself- Zoe Bee

Dearest Girl of Mine–

The other day, we read the book The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers.  (Sidenote: as a teacher-librarian I am shamelessly in love with most any and all children’s books and hold them in incredibly high esteem as the shining examples of brilliant literature that they are…yet even I have a difficult time explaining the magic of this book and so all I can do is insist that everyone ought to read it, whether you have wee folks in your everyday lives or not)

We read this book, poignant to the point that I wasn’t sure I would get through it without crying (which, wonder of wonders, I did).  And then something you said made me cry.

In your infinite wisdom, darling girl, as you were trying to make sense of this story and why someone would put her heart into a bottle to avoid getting hurt, to avoid the pain and grief that come from being a part of the world, you said:

If you don’t have your heart, you won’t be yourself.

And all I can do is nod through my tears as I say, “yes, that’s it, exactly.”  Because you, at the very unripe age of four, know already what it has taken me thirty-seven years on this planet to learn.

I put my heart away because some folks inside of our world hurt me, badly.  And I am fairly certain that this is quite a common reaction when one is hurt in this way…

Except, sweet bee, when you put your heart away, not only do you not really stop the pain but you can’t feel others’ love, either.  You miss the magic in the world.  The wonder.  The joy.  And yes, even the heartache.

And so someone or something or some bit of wonder will come along and you won’t really feel any of what you’d like to feel because your heart is encased in this bottle.  And just like the girl in the story, you may have to ask someone small, with nimble hands and brilliant thoughts for assistance and direction and guidance in getting that heart out again, because you’re worthy of feeling all the feels in the world around you.

And at times it might feel scary.  Downright terrifying.  

But those other times?  Pure joy and wonder and delight at the love around you. 

I guess what I’m saying, darling girl of mine, is that even if you have to put that heart away for a tiny while, there is always always always a way to get it out, again.  And you will always feel like yourself, again.  Because, dearest Zoe Bee, when you’ve got your heart, you’re yourself💗

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