I believe every heart has two basic needs: To be noticed and to be chosen. Not for the auto-tuned version of us that the rest of the world sees, the us that’s a little too perfectly manicured and made-up, dressed just so, always on its best behavior, says all the right things at all the right times, knows what to do to fit in and does it. No, we want to be noticed and chosen for our acoustic self, the stripped down, un-made-up version of us, the us whose voice cracks at the wrong times, who has anything but “everything under control”, who is a little grungy and frumpy, who sometimes forgets the words, who doesn’t always hit the right note – for the unvarnished and broken pieces of us, the us who is fearful, fragile, and, at times, uncertain of our worthiness. Truth be told: We want to know there’s someone in the world willing to fight for that version of us, who longs to be with it, whose heart aches in its absence – someone who cherishes it.
In a perfect world, those needs are met beginning with the love of our parents, from the moment we’re born until the day we leave the family home (and often for many years thereafter). When they are, we get to see firsthand what being noticed, chosen, fought for, and cherished looks and feels like, which makes recognizing it when we encounter it in the real world that much easier. But not every home is like that, including the one I grew up in. Some, like mine, require you to do the fighting if you want to be noticed, to perform and unfailingly excel if you want to feel cherished and chosen – and even then the morsels that fall from the table to feed your hungry heart are few. Eventually, you too go out into the world, only you don’t have the picture on the front of the puzzle box that’s there to let you know what the pieces needed to put the puzzle together look like, let alone what to do with them – where they’re supposed to go.
And so you do the best you can with what you know, the tools you have to work with. You keep doing and fighting to be noticed and hoping to be chosen. You really have no choice. It’s the deepest desire of your heart. For a moment, you entertain the idea that you’re like the most interesting painting on a gallery wall. You’re sure that sooner or later a buyer will come through the door and not only see you for what you are, but rush to embrace you and take you home without having to be convinced by the curator that you’re unique and deserving of the asking price. And when they don’t or, worse yet, when they stop and stare, come back time and time again, and repeatedly turn away, or pick another, you begin to question whether you’re special at all, why it is you have to work so hard to make others see what to you has always been so obvious: The gift that is you – all of you – just as you are.
Maybe you’re wondering whether that day will come, the day when you will be fully noticed and chosen – unconditionally, whole-heartedly, voraciously. I hope it does and I believe it will. I have to. My favorite customer just walked back into the gallery!
Artwork by Leonid Afremov