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The Heart Needs Time To Heal


I'll always remember the story I read long ago about a young man who was chased off a cliff by a hungry tiger.

Barely holding onto a cliffside branch with one arm, he looked up to see the growling tiger waiting for him. Looking down, he could see that letting go of the branch would lead to a certain death hundreds of feet below on rocky terrain.

At that moment, the young man noticed that right in front of him was a wild strawberry bush with a single ripe berry. With his free hand, he plucked that berry and put it into his parched mouth - in doing so, he was delighted to discover that it was the most delicious strawberry he had ever tasted.

I stumbled upon this memorable allegory in a Berkeley bookstore when I was in my early 20s - it was my introduction to the powerful idea that all we truly have in life is the present moment.

Though the most obvious lesson is to be grateful for what we have right now, it also serves to remind us that whatever difficulties we are experiencing, it is fruitful to be present with our feelings rather than try to fight against them.

Life has repeatedly shown me that all of us go through struggles that defy rational thought. For some, it's intermittent bouts of unexplained anxiety, sadness, or anger. For others, it's a phobia that they can't easily overcome. And for many, it's near impossible to stop worrying about the future.

Whatever it is that we cannot transcend with logical thought and the best of counsel, my view is that we must strive to embrace our mental and emotional struggles - in doing so, we give our heart time to heal from its wounds and brokenness. Just as a cut on our skin needs time to heal, our heart needs time to return to wellness.

Yes, it helps to eat healthy foods, to exercise, to prioritize restful sleep, and to engage in meaningful work and relationships. But sometimes, we simply need to give ourselves more time to be with what ails us - in doing so, we heal from the inside-out.


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