Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Heart is a Bloody Protagonist

The average heart beats 2,869,776,000 times in a life time. Give or take. I’m aware that at least 1 billion of these heart beats are forever gone for me. The story of I, the story of any human, is one which should include this bloody protagonist and its trials and tribulations. It doesn’t. Not usually. On a daily basis, unless it troubles us, we ignore it. A lesson for life, that. 

But we also have some other aspects of this final countdown of beats until the final one. I’m at 1.8 billion left. Seems like a lot, but a million go by in a couple of weeks. Yeah, and there’s even some illogical tradeoffs. Not every beat is the same. If you slow or speed the heart for the right reasons, then, ostensibly, you’ll get more at the end. The rituals are plethora: eat right, your heart will thank you; exercise to increase the speed with which it beats and you’ll get more beats out of it, don’t do it and you’ll be punished with less beats; slow down the beats in the right way—meditate—and you can get more out of it. But you can never truly know. 

And this may be a digression, but I truly think we try to protect the heart while at the same time trying to ignore what it is [1]. We refer to it with regard to love, as well as treating it to the right food so that we can live longer or better, but it is, in many ways, placed in a shrine. And like most of our other gods, we hope to ignore it and the ramifications it has in our daily lives. The rituals and sacrifices we do perform are usually done to stave off disaster; we’re afraid of the angry heart-god who will punish us for transgressions. And until those punishments are dealt to us or someone near us, we feel fine to ignore all that, or not to give much thought to that which we do or what the god’s priests (doctors) will say. 

But that might be a little too much conjecture, don't you think? As for me, I’ve been spending less time taking care of that bloody protagonist in my life and focusing upon my real vice. Writing. So now that I know the countdown is more dire than ever (oh, what’s the saying? You’ll never know the last million beats?) what shall I do with it? Well, there isn’t much that will change. I will, as always, continue to write. There will be nothing for me to consider outside of that. Of course I want to leave something for posterity, leave something worthwhile, leave something that people will learn from. I am not certain I can achieve that. I also know it will certainly chip away at those heart beats, both in an early death as well as the stress of dissidence. And now those 1.8 billion beats are put into perspective: walk the path you must and there will be fewer.  

Yet I know I cannot not try. There is nothing else in me but that energy to try. Oh, and let me be romantic for a moment and take into account the hard and ironic reality that the very heart that drives me to write also drives me down the path of fewer beats. Such fate, this. 

And I’ll leave you with a quote that I’ll give credit to Chomsky for; it’s a paraphrase of Pascal’s Wager (the one about believing in a God, never mind the lack of a specific god). That if you have no hope, you’ll do nothing and there’ll be no chance, but even having hope in the face of overwhelming odds will give you hope. 

And you too, dear reader, what does your heart tell you?

[1] Better for most of us to focus on the self and the body.

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