January 13, 2009

Why I listen to my bladder more than my heart.

I have two persistent fears in life: severe turbulence and squirrels. Irrational, I know. But regardless, there you have it. In order to calm my fear of squirrels, I usually cross the street when I see one lingering on the sidewalk. (I am always about 90% sure that the squirrel is probably rabid.) In order to calm my fear of turbulence, I like to sit by the window. This ensures that I am able to see if the wings are still attached to the plane (not that it matters or changes the circumstances of anything, but go with it).

The need for the window seat, however, results in a certain situation: two people sit between you and the aisle. And this is especially a problem when, like me, you are obsessed with hydration and just chugged two gallons of water prior to boarding the plane.

The scene usually goes like this. Chug water. Board plane. Sit by window. Two strangers sit beside me. We smile at each other. Take off. Window staring. Ten minutes later, the urge arises. Already!? I ask myself. I don't want the strangers to think I was irresponsible in not making a pit stop before I boarded the plane, so I decide I'll wait a few minutes. A few minutes later, my bladder calls again. I look at the strangers. They're asleep. Frick! I cross my legs, put on Enya, and stare out the window. Try and distract myself. I can't distract myself, all I can think about is that I need to pee. Like bad. Deep breathing. I sneakily unbutton my top jean button. It helps for like a minute. We hit a big bump and the plane jerks to the left. The strangers wake up and look out the window. Now's my chance! I unbuckle my seatbelt to make my move and then the buckle seatbelt sign comes up with that cheerfully annoying "BING" sound. Nooooo!! I shriek to myself, as I sit back down. The flight attendant warns of turbulence. Deep breath. Turbulence plus bladder equals bad. You get the idea....

The last time I found myself in this situation (aka yesterday), I started thinking about the anatomy of the bladder. When our bladder calls we listen; if we don't, we explode. We stop what we're doing and we make the pit stop. Doesn't matter where it is. Doesn't matter if it's inconvenient to stop. Doesn't matter if we don't want to. We do it, nonetheless. And this obvious realization made me think how incredibly unfortunate that humans are wired to listen to our bladders more than our hearts.

You know that horribly cheesy techno song that is played in seedy clubs: "Listen to Your Heart, when it's calling for you...i don't know where you're going and I don't know whyyyyy, listen to your heart...before you say goodbyeeeee"? If you don't, it's better that way. But the point of the song is to "listen to your heart when it's calling your name." And this horrible song has some wisdom. Too often our hearts feel compelled to do something, whether it's in a relationship or in a career choice or in volunteering, but we still ignore it....because we can. Unlike our bladder, our hearts won't explode if we don't listen to it.

For example, homelessness truly breaks my heart. And my heart constantly encourages me (with sharp pangs of burden) to drag my ass downtown to the Union Rescue Mission and start volunteering. Deep down, my heart tells me "you need to go." Now if this were my bladder, of COURSE I would go. I would jump in my car and drive downtown to Skid Row, disregarding the fact it is "inconvenient," disregarding the fact that it is "out of the way," and disregarding the fact that "I don't have any time." I would go...because I HAD TO GO. But because these signals stem from my heart, I somehow justify ignoring these signs because I can.

This pisses me off (no pun intended). Are humans still so animalistic that the priorities of our bladder outweigh the desires of our heart? And if this is the case, why is our heart, our most vital and powerful organ, the easiest one to ignore? Why couldn't we have been created with some sort of contraption that FORCED us to follow our heart? It would have been so much better for our own emotional health and for the rest of humanity.

Apparently, that would have been too easy. We as humans are left to battle with our own hearts. And because of this, when we don't listen to it, we are the only one to blame. If I don't go down to the Union Rescue Mission, it is my fault. If I don't pursue a career that my heart calls me to pursue, it is my fault. If I don't stay in or leave a relationship based on my heart's subtle signals, it is my fault. And although our hearts will not explode if we do not follow these callings, worse things result, like BURDEN. And burden is the worst...slowly accumulating weight as we try to navigate through life. I think I've unfortunately mastered some feelings of burdenment at this point in my life and I must admit the weight of burden pangs much more than the desires to urinate.

And so, another New Year's Resolution is for me to truly listen to my heart throughout the course of the year. To act on it's desires. To listen to it's callings. And through it all, of course, to still listen to my bladder.


  1. Great post Kerry! I agree that it is really ironic how we give priority/response to certain things and not others. While it is sad that we don't follow our heart's urgings nearly enough, the fact that we are not physically compelled to do so makes it that much more impressive and powerful when we do follow our heart.
    While it is pleasant/a relief to listen to your bladder, there is nothing impressive about someone going to the bathroom because their body says to. However, it is beautiful when someone makes the choice to really follow an impulse of their heart. Circumstances could be "better" if we robotically followed our heart, but the almost unnatural/difficult choice in the matter makes following our heart actually mean something.

    Thanks for the thoughts, I enjoyed reading it!

  2. Additionally, the same reasoning is what makes a relationship with God so wonderful. Actually having to make that choice to pursue the relationship and that inner longing makes it all the more meaningful because it is genuine and our choice.

    Ok that was the last thought. Next time I will consolidate my comments, haha.

  3. Aaron, I totally see the beauty you referred to in following the impulse of the heart. And I agree that making genuine choices brings us closer to God, if only because our hearts, the source of love, are intrinsically tied to God. Thanks so much for your insightful comments...don't ever consolidate them :)