If I Only had a Heart

Without question, my favorite character in the Wizard of Oz is the Tin Man:

When a man’s an empty kettle
He should be on his mettle
And yet I’m torn apart
Just because I’m presumin’
That I could be a human
If I only had a heart

Where we live in Crystal Lake, Illinois our home is about three blocks—as the crow flies—from a family owned muffler shop, so we tend to pass their congenial “Tin Man” on a regular basis. For me, his presence serves as a thoughtful reminder to pause and reflect…what condition is my heart in?

I’d be tender, I’d be gentle
And awful sentimental
Regarding love and art
I’d be friends with the sparrows
And the boy that shoots the arrows
If I only had a heart

What condition is your heart in?

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
— Laurie Buchanan

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© 2012 Laurie Buchanan– All Rights Reserved


80 thoughts on “If I Only had a Heart

  1. Laurie,

    How imaginative ! And Sweet! The song taken in a different context, I suppose the way it was to be suggested, was to cause people to ask just that “Hows my heart”?

    I think my heart is a bit bruised these days but I am always ready and willing to “be tender, and gentle, as well as sentimental !

  2. I love that fellow! And your writing has heart today (as always). My heart feels soft & full today, ready to be vulnerable and strong and questioning. Yesterday I took a walk through Houghton and ended up at the Library reading the Sun magazine and marveling over the magical prose within which shared both vulnerability and strength simultaneously. Came home to blog last night, trying to share that feeling, and this morning feel it as a lilt in the heart, a steadiness, a softness. Thank you for asking, Laurie.

    • Kathy – You piqued my curiosity with the title of the magazine you were reading yesterday so I Googled it. Very nice! An ad free, reader supported magazine (http://www.thesunmagazine.org/). I spent yesterday at the library as well (but not in my own town, I went to Barrington, a bit south of here). I love the way you describe your feeling today, “…a lilt in the heart, a steadiness, a softness.” A fantastic way to experience the day!

  3. Funny you should ask…like Jeff, I am kinda bruised and sore at heart today. A crises in friendship has happened and passed, looking up I feel that I am on the mend. In the aftermath, I find that I am still standing, able to laugh and willing to put forth a hand. Slightly bent but nowhere near broken and ready to shuck off the aura of gloom that has engulfed the proceeding days. Like the Wise Man once said, ” I could be a philosopher but cheerfulness keeps breaking out!”

      • Jeff, that phrase was a dinosaur when Mark Twain stole it from, well, I don’t remember who. I can’t stay down long before I either start laughing at myself, or have to give myself a boot to the backside.

    • Sandi – I’m so glad you’re coming around the bend from that experience and you’re driving straight into a windshield full of sunshine. I love the quote you shared, “I could be a philosopher, but cheerfulness keeps breaking out!”

  4. Listening with your heart is intuitive, superseding all reason, and many times it is the right path.

    Perhaps we have an incorrect definition for, ‘reason..’ Isn’t it possible if, the intuitive, listening to your heart is correct sometimes; Is it not a part of reason as well?

  5. Okay Laurie, Since you askd, My poor little heart is on a slooooow mend. I’m out there and find people everywhere and sometimes where I should not be. Being married 37 years, just means I didn’t give myself enough time to be around the most interesting people in the world. Or maybe no one is really interesting at 21 years old and they just sound better at 50!!!! Anyway, slowly recovering and staying where I am needed. It’s a lot like Meryl Streep movie The Bridges of Madison County. If any one was to ask me would I love any differently I would say NO. I keep my heart open, my life involved, and my experiences our my own,

    • Jean – I’m glad I asked and thankful that you shared. Sometimes the simple act of sharing can be a balm in itself. You’ve got three great ingredients going for you: (1) your heart is open, (2) your life is involved, and (3) your experiences are your own (not dependent on someone else).

  6. I am continually readjusting my actions so that they are in alignment with what is truly in my heart. First, I want to inspire people to be the best they can be, second, I want to make money doing this so that I can have the freedom to go where I want when I want. If I do not keep a close monitor on my heart, the two get switched, I start worrying too much about making money and not enough about writing words that are meant to speak to peoples hearts. Thank you for the post Laurie!

  7. I guess my answer would be the same as authorleannedyck…
    Gratefully my heart is pumping and last year my cardiologist said my heart is in great shape and “the heart of a teenager!”
    I am also in the process of transition so sometimes my emotional heart is quiet, or sad and lonesome, yet mostly it is peaceful and very grateful for the blessings; then there are times when it nearly jumps for joy 🙂

    • Ann – “The heart of a teenager!” is pretty darned terrific news to hear from one’s physician. Way to go! “Mostly peaceful and very grateful” are perfect gears when you shift into “jump for joy” mode 🙂

      • You bet Laurie 🙂 And when my doc told me that he had a big grin on his face! When the nurses on the floor found out he was my doc they couldn’t say enough good things about him. He is the only doctor in my life whoever said to me (at the end of each visit) “God Bless!”
        How lovely you see the connection from “mostly peaceful and very grateful” to “jump for joy” mode 🙂

    • Carole Jane – I’m glad you enjoyed the photo and the question. You should have seen the stares I got from passing traffic when I took it. I thought there might be an accident from so much rubber-necking.

  8. Well, Laurie, like everyone else, my heart has had its share of sunshine and sorrow, loved so much it thought it would break, and hardened at times to the point of stone. Its resiliency is remarkable and its willingness to open up again and again and again is nothing less than miraculous.

  9. I’m happy to report … a happy heart. I’ve certainly been to the heavy heart place often in recent years. Today I’m happy because I’ve had a breakthrough on the theme for my memoir. I won’t share it here because it is still fragile. I do know I’ve hit on something because my energy is soaring! Laurie your writing/blogging continue to be an inspiration for me.

  10. My heart has felt good, compassionate and wide. But I’ve just heard of those people in Afghanistan who were beheaded because they dared to attend a group where a type of music was played that was culturally unacceptable. My heart suddenly feels rather narrow constricted and angry – I’m trying to deal with it.

    • Kim – There’s no break that Divine Love can’t fix. I know you know this logically, you’re heart’s just got to catch up with your head. (psssst, re-read the Self-Acceptance chapter in your Life Harmony notebook. That’s the Self that orchestrates the heart of the matter)…

  11. Laurie, yes the cardiologist who took care of me is amazing. I have heard good things about him from others as well. One lady told me when waiting to see him…he had come out to see a lady in the waiting room who was thanking him for taking such good care of her husband. He told her he was only doing God’s work, what God wanted him to do!!!

  12. The Wizard of Oz is my “Favorite” movie. I use the Wizard of Oz in my workshops as an example of the 4 Archetypes and the 4 Brain Colors. Dorothy had a Yellow Brain and wanted the stability of going home to her family. The Tin Man had Blue Brain and he wanted a heart. The Scarecrow had a Green Brain and he wanted a Brain. The Lion had an Orange Brain and he wanted Courage!

    Today, my Blue Brain is overflowing because we walked to our granddaughter’s school and walked her home from kindergarten after her 2nd day of school. Then we waited for our grandson to get off the little school bus that brought him home from the 2nd day at a new pre-school. Life is Grand and My Heart is Bursting with Blessings!

    • Sheila – I have been on the very pleasant receiving end of an engaging presentation (Lake Geneva, WI) when you used those very examples. If I’m not mistaken, I think you were being filmed that day for your YouTube channel. I remember there was a wonderful energy in the air, and a tremendous sense of camaraderie among the women at that conference.

      Oh, how wonderful about your grandchildren and the excitement associated with these experiences. I’d probably be flooding the house with happy tears 🙂

  13. every other day for the past 7 weeks I have had the dressing changed on my surgery and have had my blood pressure and weight and pulse checked too….I am just back to doing my full walking routine this week so am hoping the weight is going to correct itself! but everyday the nurses say – you have a good strong pulse and blood pressure is great.
    I am doing exercises to let go of the anger I have been holding onto since I was very young, and I think that is helping the flow too…
    My second child says that being the TIN MAN is great, but it is the worst Halloween costume to wear to a party – too inflexible the metal even with drier tubes for the arms and knees….she was hot, miserable and stiff.
    Fun post – Thank you

    • PatriciaWhoohoo – I’m so glad to know that you’re on the mend! I can’t begin to imagine wearing a Tin Man costume (plus the silver makeup). That’s got to be uncomfortable!.

  14. Hi Laurie

    The Wizard of Oz is one of my all time favourite movies – lost count of how many times I’ve seen it, and how many times I’ve sung “Some where over the rainbow”.

    To me it is interesting how our culture uses the term “heart”.

    The heart is basically a pump, that is essential for the function of the rest of the body, moving all the blood around at appropriate pressures, supplying nutrients, removing waste products, transporting chemical signals, It is a very smart pump, and it is something within us that we can feel physically.

    Because we can physically feel what our hearts are doing, they provide a kind of conscious level feedback to us of how our unconscious systems are functioning.

    In this sense, it seems that the term “heart” has come to stand as a metaphor for all of the various unconscious and subconscious levels of systems within us.

    For me, one of the things that it is important to get about our subconscious systems is that there are many levels of them. They are not one simple thing, they are a whole stack, a nest, of many different sets of things, and the metaphor of the heart is like an integration across all of those systems into a single function (the organ of the heart).

    One of the interesting things, is that it is not the heart itself that is those systems, the heart is simply the place in which the effects of all those systems are most clear to the conscious. And once we start looking, we can find many other mechanisms for accessing information about the states of the many sets of subsystems that make our consciousness possible.

    So my heart seems to be fairly good, both physically and metaphorically, and in the physical sense it is a bit out of shape, having not been worked much the last couple of years. Funny thing is, that as I am writing this, I have my running shoes on, and am about to go out for the first run in over 2 years. It will be a short one, and the first of many to come. Heart is in for a bit of a shock, like it hasn’t had for a couple of years.

    In the metaphorical sense, it seems open. I am still crying at movies, still helping out strangers, still loving. That which does not kill us makes us stronger, or at least makes us more aware of the strengths that we always had, and either never suspected, or didn’t trust.

    • Back from the run. The run down the hill and along the beach went fine, but had to slow to a walk on the way back – got a bit over a mile before stopping, so quite pleased with that for a first try. Also got back up the 300ft hill to the house without stopping, though I did walk most of the track. Recovery time was good. So heart is still in reasonable physical shape, Will step it up a level or two over the next couple of months.

    • Ted – I love what you shared here (thank you!). Like you, I know that the heart – physically – is a phenomenal pump. Metaphorically, I think of the heart as the seat of our emotion.

      And you with your running shoes… Have a complete and total blast. I hope you’ll post about it soon. Knowing you, I feel compelled to say — Please don’t over do it! Ease back into it. (Your idea of ease and mine may be worlds apart).

      I’m tickled pink to know that you cry at movies. Now I feel like I’ve got a long-lost twin!

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  16. THE WIZARD OF OZ is a film that is beloved my every member of my family. My wife Lucille has always named it as her absolute favorite and with VHS, laserdisc, and DVD viewings, I’d say we’re into the hundreds. Like other baby bommers I go way back with the film, well remembering the CBS holiday showing and waiting every year to watch this great musical fantasy that for subsequent decades has ravished people the world over. In a 1930’s polling conducted two years at WitD the film was named the gretest of the 1930’s, delighting the passinate supporters and irritating a vocal minority who can’t quite embrace it’s positive world view and homespun values. “There’s no place like home” has never been given such definitive treatment, and all it’s characters reflect the virtues and flaws in all of humanity transcribed here with a humorous and elegiac underpinning. The Tin Man is a wonderful choice for favorite character, and his heart is the heart of the film, and in the wonderful L. Frank Baum stories thjat inspired and sourced it. The timeless Harold Arlen-Yip Harburg music and lyrics of the “If I Had a _ _ _” series is of course the “heart” of the film in both a narrative and thematic sense, and they provide for a telling reflection on one’s one self-esteem and confidenc they are playing by the rules of humanity. I certainly wuld like to think my hearting is beating in the right direction both physically and emotionally, and my family seems to bring out the best on both counts. Lovely post Laurie! In fear of rambling on too long here but convinced I must size up this most beloved of films rightly I will reference what I wrote las year in a lead-in to the film’s popularity:

    “It is arguably the most beloved film ever made in this country. It was based on one of the most venerated children’s stories ever written. It launched the career of the greatest female thespian to ever appear in a musical film, and it remains the one film she is most reverentially identified with. The movie’s celebrated score is woven into our popular culture, and it’s unforgettable screenplay has produced lines of dialogue that are ingrained into the consciousness of anyone and everyone who has watched the film countless times, and have come to value it’s themes of home, family and friendship as cinematically conclusive. The film’s most coveted song is probably the most popular number ever written during the twentieth century, and has been covered time and again by renowned artists. The story of it’s changing directors and cast auditions remain as fascinating to movie lovers as anything else about the film, and more has been written on the making of the picture than any other in history. The story of the little people who appear early in the film in one of it’s most celebrated sequences, remains a stand alone curiosity for many to this very day, with the old age passings of this unique fraternity a major news item. Every supporting member of the film’s distinguished cast will eternally be remembered firstly for the role they played in this film, even with exceptional careers to their credit. No film has been more referenced in other movies, and the final black-and-white sequence set in the bedroom of a Kansas farmhouse may well be the most emotionally moving scene in the history of American cinema. With the advent of home video in the late 70′s the film became an incomparable favorite, and to this day has been released more often on the many video formats up to a recently-released blu-ray box set. The smash Broadway hit Wicked is hugely indepted to the 1939 film. While it has come to represent homespun family values and the most vivid realization of one’s dreams, The Wizard of Oz is imbued with humor and humanity, two qualities that more than any other have contributed to it’s enduring, even spectacular appeal over decades all around the world. Much like the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the day astronauts first stepped foot on the moon, many Americans will never forget the day, the month and the year they first remembered watching the film, and in whose company they were with. Just two years ago, the seventieth anniversary of the film’s opening was celebrated to national fan-fare, with the original city of it’s first appearance being honored – Oconomwoc, Wisconsin.”

    • Sam – How fun to wake up and read this wonderful tribute to the Wizard of Oz with my morning cuppa tea. Oh my gosh, I LOVE IT!

      Readers – For those of you who may not know, Sam Juliano is one of the people who make magic happen over at Wonders in the Dark, a blog dedicated to the arts, especially film, theatre and music. Here’s a link: http://wondersinthedark.wordpress.com/

  17. Tender as a tender coconut-marches on thinking it is strong as nails like those that make up a tin -man.Great picture,Laurie

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  19. What a sweet post Laurie!! Well I thought my heart was in a good condition, but yesterday I got really upset with some family problems. I felt weak and so vulnerable. I woke up this morning to a beautiful day here in sunny California and even though I am still hurt by yesterday, I know that as every minute passes by, my heart and soul are healing. Have a great labor day weekend!

    • Adri – I’m glad for your visit today. Glad, too, that you’re feeling much better (that sunny California has a way of making one’s heart merry). I hope you have a wonderful holiday weekend as well.

  20. I’m a native Kansan so as you may imagine I’m a fan of The Wizard of Oz. I love the music….this one is a classic. As for the state of my heart…..it’s always hopeful. I live with the promise of good things will happen to those who have an open mind and an open heart. Great post.

  21. We’ve had scarecrows pop up all over our village recently as part of a competition – but none was like this fella you have. He’s (or she’s) a good one.

  22. My heart has been broken a couple of times Laurie but the last person to break it, came back and mended it.
    The Wizard Of Oz was the first movie my Dad ever saw, aged about 5 and the wicked witch freaked him out and he ran screaming from the cinema! We often remind him of this.

  23. Pingback: Labor Day, Harold Lloyd, The French Old Wave, Paranorman, Cosmopolis, and the Asbury Park Pinball Museum on Tuesday Morning Diary (September 4) « Wonders in the Dark

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