Happy Valentines Day!!, originally uploaded by Darwin Bell on Flickr.com.

I’ve been wondering what I’d write about, what would pull me out of my literary torpor–and this image by my Flickr friend Darwin Bell did it.

I am a fan of hearts, both emotional and physical, and in fact try to live guided by the clarity of “the diamond in the eye of the heart.” To remind myself I wear a white gold ring with a diamond in the center on my “wedding finger”–third finger left hand–even though I have only married my own heart.

My heart has been tender lately, a little on the achey side. If I were plotting the story of my life, I’d be pondering the open book that is the last major section. At 65 I need to learn to lay skillful offerings at the altar of Janus, as I look back at a past that delivered disappointments on the order of the proverbial elephant that demands to be eaten and as I stay open to a future that can still offer solid satisfactions and surely some pleasant surprises.

Staying in more than usual because of the rainy weather hasn’t helped my heart. When I stay in too long, I get over-frugal with my own energy and don’t venture out to the new places that excite my eye. I don’t meet the strangers I so enjoy, and too often I pull back from deepening with the people already in my life. “They’re too busy,” I say. “I had him to dinner once; I don’t know if he’d want to come back.” Or I don’t issue the invitation to the new acquaintance whose friendliness is already giving me so much pleasure. “Better leave well enough alone,” I mutter to myself.

But Darwin’s tincture of pink may be just the restorative I need right now. Accessible, imperfect, actual, off-center, it invites one in, says, “Come closer, you don’t have to be afraid of me.”

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