Last week I hummed along with Neil Young as he searched for a heart of gold and a question occurred to me:
Was this heart of gold an actual gold mine or was it a metaphor for something else? Was he singing about searching for a heart of gold in someone who’d hurt him?
The song “Heart of Gold” was released in 1972, a few months before I officially became a teenager. At 13, who takes a song at anything other than face value? My musical loves were Donny Osmond and the Partridge Family, so clearly deep lyrics were not my thing. Interestingly enough, Donny’s “Puppy Love” was also a 1972 hit.
Anyway, last week I suddenly heard a deeper meaning in the words and looked up the lyrics to see the whole song in context. Since I’m sensitive to copyright issues, I don’t want to reprint the lyrics here, but if you’ve got another minute, I encourage you to do a quick search and read them yourself.
They seem to refer to a search for a deeper meaning and focus of life.
It seems to me that the song could also refer to searching for good in someone. We all want to believe that there’s something good inside each person. This, of course, is contrary to what Scripture teaches us, which is “there is none good, no not one. There is none who seeks after God.” And “the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.”
Does that mean I should stop searching for a “heart of gold” in a narcissist?
I think it means I can stop trying to convince myself that someone who is consistently selfish and self-centered can change. Even if they can change, they don’t want to. I can drive myself to keep searching for their heart of gold, but eventually I will have to concede that it doesn’t exist.
That doesn’t mean I won’t believe the best about someone and their intentions. It does mean that when someone consistently makes everything about them, the healthy thing to do may be to stop searching for their heart of gold and just accept them as they are.