When I first created HeartsEverywhere.com, I wanted a catchy name for a blog I could use as a writing platform. The name came obviously and easily. Deep in love, I discovered hearts everywhere, which exploded all around me alongside Twitter and Facebook. Throughout the year, I sought out reinforcing signs from the universe yearning for the reasons and explanations. I was so uncertain of myself, I grasped for confetti hearts to convince me I was on the right path.
I concocted capitalist-based dreams for the site – everyone would submit heart pictures, I’d form a community of love lovers, everyone would buy a heart screen printed t-shirt, and we’d all celebrate living life out fucking loud. But knock, knock, who’s there? It’s life! While I collected heart-shaped rocks and click-clacked on my blog, life doled out challenges. I got fired; someone fell on me and broke my knee, I got pregnant with no job or health insurance. Fun cards from this deal left us with bed bugs and rats in one apartment; darkness and eviction in another, and a three-month stint with my family of four living in my dad’s one room basement in Staten Island. I didn’t cease being grateful or in love, but I stopped looking for hearts, continued to write in private, and abandoned HeartsEverywhere for five years.
It took half a decade, but I have finally forgiven myself for getting frustrated with my project and abandoning it. It also meant embracing the artist title. My husband encouraged me to own it and accept the obligatory dose of self-hatred. Artists struggle, he explained. This was all part of “it.” Reading talented writers refer to their words as shit was equally reassuring.
But this isn’t about being an artist, or more specifically, a writer. This applies to anyone. At a pivotal moment, life will trump your dream and at this crossroads, you can either surrender or put up a fight. We are obligated to pursue our dreams because otherwise we feel shortchanged on this only go around the planet. Why not go for the dream? Because going for the dream is damn hard! Dreams are not dangling carrots or low-hanging fruit. Just because you want them so badly doesn’t ensure you won’t have to work your ass off to turn them into reality. I wish it was as easy as the American saying, “do what you love and the money will follow.” My Soviet immigrant parents never doled out such advice. In lieu of dreams, we discussed practical and lucrative professions. They wanted a life for me laden with fewer financial burdens and struggles.
This year I decided to imagine myself as a sail in the wind. I would dreamily type on my keys each day, liberating the words lying dormant and plaguing me altogether. I would devote my hours to my passion and the universe would kindly (and prolifically) reward me. But LIFE remains knocking every day to remind me anything worth pursuing doesn’t come easily. While greatness is born out of struggle, butterfly quotes flutter around me urging me to liberate myself, to live my dream. This is my one commitment this year. No matter what happens, my perfection paralysis will not win. At the end of the day, I have a deadline and words to publish. To quote Tina Fey, quoting Lorne Michaels, “You don’t go on when you’re ready. You go on at 11:30 pm.”
Yesterday I found myself in Times Square, in the middle of NYC, accompanied by my Wicked Witch of Doubt. I channeled her as I ranted on how I was wasting my time and what is the point of all this and what a stupid project and I’ll never amount to anything. I was a spoiled teenager having a hissy fit.
As I meandered through the over-stimulating mecca of digital advertising, I noted a captivating new art installation*. This faceted ring of twelve golden, mirrored HEARTS, ten-feet-tall, was designed to reflect the pulsing activity in Times Square in a kaleidoscopic effect. Additionally, there were offshoots to each heart, “kissing booths,” where couples could see their actions repeated in all directions, akin to a hall of mirrors.
I stood mesmerized. I found myself encapsulated in a shining circle of hearts and I was reminded, life keeps sparkling. My inner American dreamer jumped for joy at this message from the universe cheering me on. Hearts ARE everywhere. Figuratively and literally, beating hearts and love pulses all around us; it’s our choice to see them or ignore them. We can spend our energy doubting and being angry, frustrated by competition or others’ successes, or we can refocus and find signs to remind us we’re exactly where we’re supposed to be.