Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Ties That Bind

We all have cords coming from our hearts. Some ends attach to people and others to places. Dreams and memories anchor other cords. These cords wary in thickness, strength and healthiness. When we leave a place or people we love, the cords stretch tugging painfully on the heart. In cases of unexpected, unprepared leavings the cords may snap leaving us a little less anchored and a little more torn. Over time the strained cords of the heart may stretch until they break. Some unravel slowly until the person or place slips from our awareness. Some people's cords are thin and snap easily causing aches but no great pains and no great joys. Others form strong thick cords that function like an artery to the heart. When severed these wounds can cause a person to bleed out unwilling, unable to live without that connection. At times snapped or frayed cords can be tied back together but the knots slip and unravel easily.
The heart strings trained or broken by distance and time are different from those severed by death, loos or tragedy. The cords broken by time thin out over the years. The strength supplied by them fades. The memory of the person or place grows fuzzy around the edges. It is harder to dredge up memories of his face or the sound of her voice. One day the bond breaks sometimes unnoticed for quite some time. The cords pulled taut by distance tug painfully at the heart as the road slips behind us and familiar places flash by. The discomfort grows until waving relatives blurr into the scenery, the town dwindles, and the plane takes off.
Countless times I have left people and places behind. I have watched friends leave more times than I care to remember. I hold the strings of my heart loosely. They are strong able to bear up under great distances and many years. I don't let them grow too big or provide too much emotional sustenance so that when they break the pain is minimal. As I write this I'm sitting in the Buffalo airport waiting to board my flight to Atlanta and from Atlanta back home to Salt Lake City. My ties holding me there start to slacken. I will sleep in my bed, yell at my roommate's cats, and tell of my vacation. The ties binding me to Western New York tighten, tugging at my heart. I see these cords thinning. Several will break soon. I see it. I dread it. It makes the goodbye harder this time around. Good friends of mine are retiring and moving closer to grand kids. Those ties will shift to a new location removing another tie I have to a place. The house they live in is my home. The place I could count on a bed, excellent dinner and tea while watching HGTV. That house is a refuge to me a place of love and acceptance. I said good bye to that house, consciously weakening the rope attached to it. I probably will not be able to call it home again. The places I know so intimately will change over time. Old buildings will be torn down and new ones built. The Subway becomes a Burger King and all the familiar faces disappear. My attachment begins to break until one day the cord anchoring me to Western New York is that of memory, a bittersweet remembrance of what was.
One decision is left for you and I when our ties that bind break, snap, fray, dissolve. Do we grow a new vein and invest in new people and places or do we wrap the broken ties of our life around us, cocooning ourselves from the pain and attachments of life? The choice lies before us risk pain to gain affection, strength, support, belonging- life or insulate, ignore and hide with all our cords attached to broken dreams and fading memories until our hearts wither from lack of affection. Which will you choose?

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