Feb. 23, 2008

the art of hearts

My most literal metaphor yet.


Imagine a world where people were born with their hearts outside their chests. Do this minus the blood, come on, youíll be alright.


So. People. Hearts outside their chests. People tying them up in pretty chains, people walking down the streets with their Hearts hanging from their necks, beating gorgeously under the sun, and oh, the fine tickle of wind on a lovely day. Yes.

The heart, as it is, beats more than 100,000 times a day, somewhere between the lungs, somewhere inside our chest. I read that somewhere. Imagine that something beating against your chest on the outside, ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND TIMES. In a day. That has got to be something thrilling, perhaps. Morbid for some, but then, you get used to things right?

Perhaps the more cautious of us would enclose their Hearts in cases. The more private ones would perhaps choose to enclose their Hearts in opaque cases, but then, come to think of it, why hide something youíd been born with out in the open? It must need the sun at some point.

Hearts out in the open

Of course, this would mean lying is never an option, much so pretending. Lucky for us now, the chest hides how hard it beats whenever we chance upon something beautiful, something breathtaking, something exciting. Perhaps the children would be taught firstly how to mute embarrassing Heartbeats.

So, a world built on honesty, how about that? People cannot lie about the existence of emotions, much less feign them. The Heart beats accordingly. It can be observed. Itís empirical. I cannot lie about any of my attractions or burgeoning desires, however I please. On the other end, I could not feign any of my affections.

I may mute the desire to a barely perceptible but still irregular throb, but itís still irregular anyway and it would show. And faking it? Canít make it beat harder if it doesnít want to.

Even the most trained would falter because the Heart is a muscle with a mind of its own.

The anatomy of a Heart in the midst of confession

It starts off pounding. Forget the sweat and the stutter. The Heart is pounding, and that says a whole lot more than an endocrine system on overdrive, or a communications system in grave dysfunction.

So we do our best to put it in our hands, grip it tightly as if we could still it.

We donít even have to say anything. We donít learn this in school, not even in a school overflowing with hormonal teenagers, but instead hear it in snatches of gossip from our elders, from our friends Ė this is how the Heart beats while on the verge of something. Itís the stuff sleepovers and drinking binges are made of.

BeatbeatbeatPoundPoundPOUND, so hard it practically would bounce off your chest, or squirm out of your hand.

Itís all the same. The Heart is unbelievably standard, whether it beats for boys or girls.

Yet the experience, that mix of fear, uncertainty and desire? Almost always different anyway.

The anatomy of a Heart in the midst of a relationship

And what of relationships? Itís a literal giving away. You take my Heart, and I hang yours around my neck. A literal exchange. That way I am with you always. That way I can feel the world as it moves around you.

That way I take care of your Heart, you take care of mine. Canít get any more literal than that.

Of course, this would mean the heart you have on is not yours. And it would not be your business to give it away to someone else you meet on the streets, no. Talk about fidelity.

So probably the population of the commitment-phobic would be greater. How can you possibly part with the Heart youíve been born with?

But then, in that world, same as here now, people would always, always find a reason to somehow, at some point

The anatomy of a Heart breaking

Of course it canít be literal, because the literal splitting and breaking would amount to death, so even with our Hearts out the Heartbreak is still very much a metaphor.

But, just as it is now, it would still start with a slight jerk.

The other person starts with, Iím sorry. (Or sometimes, not even that.)

Your heart sputters, then pounds and then stops. For a moment, just stops. Like cardiac arrest.

Because thatís what it is: A hard mini-death. Rejection, betrayal, the several juxtapositions of pain we cause other people. Itís something we cannot control.

The anatomy of a Heart in the midst of moving on

The Heart, an incredibly resilient muscle, canít afford not to beat for too long. So. So the moment it stops beating for a moment, mourning a certain loss, itís actually beginning the process of mending.

Scars here and there. Of course, this is unavoidable, and with our hearts out in the open, all the more visible. Like maps of previous mistakes Ė like, here, I made a mistake, and by the overgrowth this must be a couple of years or so ago. But you know.

You know, hereís the thing. It stops for a while, reduced to a small faint red glow for a while, much unlike the bright red it has when happier. Grant it that.

But then, here now. Then, the true magic here begins Ė the Heart starts beating again. Softer, a bit more cautious now, but still beating.

Then the time comes. Because it always does. The Heart, compelled yet again, to beat harder. Again. The way it has that first time. Just when you thought doing anything of the same intensity would kill you, time would come. Because thatís what time is good at, you know Ė coming.

And then, the Heart would know just when, and just as magically, how.