Heartbeats

Broken Heart

Heartbroken, heartache, having a full heart, a heavy heart, a heart that is jumping out of your chest. Home is where the heart is. You make my heart sing. My heart beats for you. So many phrases and so many emotions make reference to the heart. The heart, the center of the body, where the soul resides. The heart is where love emanates from.  The heart is also the epicenter of life, pumping oxygenated blood to our brains, lungs, and limbs. Have I made my point? The heart is where it’s at. What in the world do you do when there is something wrong with your heart?

It’s always our scariest, or most emotional experiences, that give us the most perspective.  Why aren’t we born with perspective? Parents try to impart perspective to their kids, and are met with rolling eyes and deep sighs. But, then again, if you were born with perspective, it wouldn’t really mean as much, right?  Because to understand something’s importance, to grasp the meaning between your fingers and really be able to squeeze, you must know both sides. You must know both sides personally. You must experience the fear of losing what it is you have and love.

And then there are the things you take for granted. Like our hearts, for example, that beat on, the intrepid engines for our vital organs.  Hearts have to work correctly, almost perfectly, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for (hopefully) over 80 years. Our most incredibly engineered consumer products last, at most, maybe 15 or 20 years…and that’s with impeccable upkeep and easily replaceable parts. Hearts are a miracle, a marvel. So someday, when the shadow of a problem lingers over your steadfast ticker, you will be shocked. Because it’s the daily miracles of survival we take for granted.  Especially when you’re under 30, healthy, and not suffering with obesity or any other particularly taxing condition. Two weeks ago, I took a lot about my body for granted. It had an almost smug quality to it, thinking I take such great care of myself. Please.

As it turns out, I have a big, strong heart from all these years of exercise and I’m not going down just yet. But I literally got to see my heart, on a screen, during an echocardiogram. Not only that, but I got to hear the true sound of music, my own beating heart. What a beautiful sight, the nucleus of my whole self, so reliable, so loyal, so perfectly engineered. And it made me think about what other parts of my body, and my health, I am taking for granted. I felt like I was meeting a best friend for the first time, a friend I didn’t even recognize had been there for me every single day of my life. Everything inside of us is expected to work well, without too many repairs, over the course of a lifetime. This thought alone now leaves me speechless.  How thankful I am for my body.

And perspective, too.  Perspective took me by the hand during the weeks of waiting and wondering if something was seriously wrong. As it turns out, perspective is a great companion to have on this journey. When your heart is in jeopardy, the thoughts that consume you center on mortality. So little time, it can all change in an instant, live life to the fullest. I used to think these thoughts were morbid, and dark, and served no purpose. Clearly, that response was a defense mechanism born of fear and misunderstanding.

This time around, these thoughts made me happy because I had some perspective.  I had some reality. Reality reminds us, recalibrates us and reinvigorates us. Because it doesn’t go on forever, and you might not be healthy forever. So maybe this was just one of the many little miracles of my life, sent along to remind me of a few important truths.

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