A few months ago, while I was clearing out a storage room in a lonely warehouse building, a friend called me on my cell phone in tears. She told me of the overwhelming fear and anxiety she was feeling about a trip she was to embark upon in a few hours, that held many potentially difficult situations.
Standing in a storage room amidst broken cardboard boxes and forgotten stuff, I listened and talked and listened, as my friend’s tears gradually subsided. “But, how will I make it through?” she asked. “What will I do if I start to panic on the long flight, or when I am in another time zone?”
I wondered what I could offer right then and there? What would be totally portable, that she could look at any time she needed to, to remind her of other ways of seeing things, the opposite of fear and sadness?
I found myself saying: “Get a pen. Now draw a heart in the palm of your hand. The heart is all the good things you need reminding of: hope and possibility and solutions that you can’t imagine now, and most of all, love, and all the people that love and care about you. The heart will be hidden in your hand, and when you need it, all you have to do is open your hand and look; it will remind you.”
My friend took the secret heart with her, and told me she looked at it often in the days that followed. As it faded, she drew it anew. No one seemed to notice it. It proved to be the best way possible to use your hand as a notepad.
I’ve often wondered how that bit of Emergency Medicine came to me that day. ‘Heart in hand’…an old folk art image floated up from my memory. I remembered the Shakers used that image a lot, though my meaning was different from their “Put your hands to work, and your hearts to God”. A ‘heart in hand’ is also the symbol of the Odd Fellows, one of those mysterious fraternal organizations…
…Somewhere, that powerful image had lodged in my mind long ago, waiting to be passed on.
Related post: Hand as Notepad