Paradise By the Dashboard Light: who’s riding shotgun in your car, why emotions aren’t your BFF + Meatloaf, oh my! (a two-fer one post)

[ Meatloaf’s classic tune depicts two lovers who regret letting their emotional urges get the best of them.  I’ve always loved this song and as I was rockin’ out to it the other day suddenly it hit me: Hey! This is the perfect metaphor for my next piece: emotions vs. heart! Most people seem to think that heart = emotions. But Heart and Emotions are actually star-crossed lovers, and for our purposes one is the driver and the other rides shotgun…]

video still from "Paradise By The Dashboard Light"

Baby doncha hear my heart
You got it drowning out the radio
I’ve been waiting so long
For you to come along and have some fun…

Doesn’t it seem like we use our emotions as if they’re the driver of our personal hot rod, serving to take us wherever we want to go in life? And that our heart automatically jumps in, along for the ride, when our emotions are at the wheel?

We also seem to think that our heart wants to go where emotions are headed, like when they lure us into the backseat for a quickie. (Huh. Kinda like Meatloaf, hot n’ heavy with Karla, who thought she was a Sure Thing…)

And I gotta let ya know
No you’re never gonna regret it
So open up your eyes I got a big surprise
It’ll feel all right
Well I wanna make your motor run…

We assume that heart is our trusty co-pilot, always waiting to ride shotgun. We not only assume that, more often than not we blindly rely on it. It’s not your fault (or mine – I’m so guilty here). We’re told all the time to just ‘trust your instincts,’ right? As if you simply have to chant these magic words and it all comes together in some magical-fantastical alignment that serves your highest good!, your heart’s desire! Unicorns + rainbows will be there when you arrive, fun + festivities for all!

We let our emotions say to heart, with the intense hyper-confidence of a Bad Boy in the back-seat on prom night: Don’t worry, baby, I got this.

And now our bodies are oh so close and tight
It never felt so good, it never felt so right
And we’re glowing like the metal on the edge of a knife
C’mon! Hold on tight!
C’mon! Hold on tight!

Big mistake, I’m thinkin’.


I don’t need to remind you that more than ever in popular culture, we are bombarded with images and urges to cultivate a subconscious belief that objects (“stuff”) somehow will emotionally provide for us. (Okay, but for just a sec I will – here’s a great article that you just have to read. G’head, I’ll wait.) By forces that do not have your best interest – your heart’s bottom-line, it’s overall well-being – in mind. We are convinced on a daily basis by a constant stream of input that emotions, and things that we bond with in an emotional way, will get us not only what we want, but what we need. The Guy. The Girl. The job. The car. The house. The perfect face, body or even personality. The power. The prestige. The status. Paradise.

It’s become an easy trap in this sound bite world: We confuse that adage “Trust your instincts” with just blindly following our emotion’s lead. And trampling right over heart in our rush. I see this all the time, and I have done it more than I’d like to admit.

Though it’s cold and lonely in the deep dark night
I can see paradise by the dashboard light
Paradise by the dashboard light…

These are all aspects that appeal to and reside in the 1st-3rd chakras (not bad in and of themselves, but there is a potential for being like a kid in a candy store when you are dealing with things like primal survival, sex and will). This is the realm of ego, where our emotions and base instincts are so readily churned out. And when we focus all our efforts on responding only through them, when we let emotions drive the car, we are not actually listening to our higher instincts. And more important: that means we are not listening to our heart’s true desire. Or it’s true needs, for that matter. (Did I just equate instincts not with emotions but with heart? Yes; yes I did.)

Your emotions are not Who You Are. Emotions are warnings, signposts + bumps in the road that we need to pay attention to and learn from. They are not why we travel our life’s road, just a means to an end. ‘Emotion’ is fleeting, never offering us stability or rest. Sure it can be the celebration, the dance – but without heart’s wisdom it can easily become the battle, the confusion and the storm.

So there’s a sacred marriage at risk of spiritual divorce when we invalidate heart. And the more we divorce ourselves from heart, the more we rely on unpredictable emotions as our default response in challenging situations. When we let emotions tell heart things like “I got this” we are essentially telling heart I don’t think you can handle this. I don’t think you’re capable. I don’t trust you. (Ruh-roh. Doesn’t that kinda go against everything that gives your heart meaning?)

courtesy of D Sharon Pruitt,

This leaves us (er, our emotions) careening through Vegas with no map, too much tequila on hand + money to burn. Yup, hard to see where you’re goin’ when you’re too busy shoving heart onto the backseat with Meatloaf. We relegate heart as just not cool enough, not capable of the Big Stuff.

The Fun Stuff.

The Exciting, Fulfilling Stuff.

The Worthy Stuff.

And really, without heart it’s all just… stuff. Because emotions are meant to be in service to the heart, not kidnap it for endless nights in Vegas.

(Which is right about when Karla starts singing to Meat:)

Stop right there!
I gotta know right now!
Before we go any further–!

And now we’ve reached the End of Part One, my friends.

[ Such a tease, I know. Part Two is comin’ at you first thing Monday morning. Pinky swear. My 4 year old says I’m good for it, so hang on tight…here’s the original video to get you through… ]

This entry was posted in Passionate Equanimity, Tools to Thrive, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Paradise By the Dashboard Light: who’s riding shotgun in your car, why emotions aren’t your BFF + Meatloaf, oh my! (a two-fer one post)

  1. Pingback: Paradise By The Dashboard Light: who’s riding shotgun in your car, why emotions aren’t your BFF + Meatloaf, oh my! (part two of the two-fer one) |

  2. jaz says:

    thanks so much for the words of wisdom, Kim.

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