"You can brick up your heart as stout and tight and hard and cold and impregnable as you possibly can and down it comes in an instant, felled by a woman's second glance, a child's apple breath, the shatter of glass on the road, the words 'I have something to tell you,' a cat with a broken spine dragging itself into the forest to die, the brush of your mother's papery ancient hand in the thicket of your hair, the memory of your father's voice early in the morning echoing from the kitchen where he is making pancakes for his children."
Last line of Joyas Voladores
First off, Brian Doyle is my favorite human and Joyas Voladores is my favorite piece of writing ever. This final line slays me every time I read it. I think what Brian is saying is that people protect their feelings above all else but it's pointless. When something as innocuous as your mother's hand on your head can bring tears to your eyes, why bother trying to be tough? "...it comes down in an instant..." so just live without your guard up. Feel things.
I knew Brian a little bit before he died and I really think this is how he lived. He spoke to my class once for an hour and he must have cried a half dozen times while telling stories. There was nothing blocking or protecting his heart. Not remotely. He just put it out there for all to see. He was a man living without pretense or fear or ego. He was just living. I think he lived with his heart outside of his chest.
I want to live like that. I want to feel things so deeply that I am moved to tears frequently. Can you imagine how beautiful that would be? To just take in information and be able to react honestly without worrying about what people would think? To just react without thought, but rather honesty? To feel joy that would bring you to tears on the daily? That is exactly how I want to live.