Hard to pin down the many muses that push creativity, that drive that which causes me to write. Now, I keep a notepad as well as a million sheets of paper at hand to write down whatever it is I have in the form of an idea for future use. Much like Stephen King, I am of the mind that I'll jot it down, but if it doesn't lead to much—the note isn't valid, it doesn't speak of that great of an idea etc—I can disregard it, though having copious notes helps mitigate this.
Nevertheless, there is something to be said about that burst of energy, that need to write. And so when I wrote a short essay about hearbeats, it felt like I was writing it from a few disjointed notes. But, a few days ago I looked through my notes (from my trip to Europe) and realized that I had already written about this.
Of course, I my first thought was that this was early onset dementia, but I soon talked myself out of it (barely). I'm not sure, however, what it says about my writing ability that what last month was an essay has been rediscovered as a short story. Your thoughts? Read it below (raw form):
If you’re lucky, you’ll get 3 billion heartbeats in your lifetime. Now, what you do with those heartbeats is all up to you. Some people try to forget that they have hearts beating away in their chest. Some are aware of it all the time; these people have a countdown of heartbeats. Only a couple billion left, and yesterday I wasted 100,000 heartbeats in a day. Oh what folly! Well, that kind tends to coddle their heart, taking care to give it the right food, to let it yammer away. Others, aware, want to stuff it shut, not right away, but these people are always feeding their heart the foodstuffs that could only lead to disaster, to fewer heartbeats than normally would be.
Of course, it goes without saying that not all your heartbeats will be equal. There may even be a sort of curve. most people think that the last billion are no where near as good as those first. Funny to think in such terms, I say. There are some trains of thought which think on every heartbeat as important. I’m not sure about that, though meditation seems to have changed a lot of that, in terms of having a real working relationship with your heart.
I’m a maximalist, when it comes to making the best of the time you have with your heart (and this might be the closest thing I have that comes to my modern day’s philosophy). In other words, make themes out of every single heartbeat, not now and in the future.
There is, of course, the other type of maximalist, the one who simply wants to extend the amount of heartbeats without regard to the quality of those heartbeats. These people think that it doesn’t matter where you end up adding those heartbeats: in the beginning of in the end. Though I agree that every heartbeat is precious, I would rather add those heartbeats in the middle, but that’s my own prejudice.
Some people believe that not all heartbeats are equal. Now, when it comes to us versus those other species, I would agree, though I wouldn’t take it too far; still the very idea of a heart—evolutionarily speaking—is certainly something I find extremely miraculous. But even amongst humans one can see a very specific strain of heartbeat-exceptionalism. It is this vile strain that I try to combat on a daily basis. The other strain—a derivative of the previous one—treats others, especially those your heart hasn’t met, as worthy of only derision; as if these “others” had no heart of their own.
That being said, I try not to impose my own beliefs upon others… but I do implore you to have an honest and open relationship with your heart.
The man stopped talking and looked at me. “So,” he said, “what’s your belief system when it comes to the heart?”
I was tied up to a chair, wondering why I was being forced to listen to this, wondering which part of the interrogation this fit into. Was it merely to pull me out of my shell?
“I think you have the numbers right,” I said.
“Are you being a smart-ass?”
If this were a test, I was failing. I reminded myself to act more pliable. And yet I didn’t want to speak, and yet I liked the man… Perhaps that’s what the damned heart speech was meant to do, meant to make me like him, make me absolutely willing to answer. I could picture hims studying my file, learning the intricacies of my likes and dislikes, my reading list learning that I was partially one who enjoyed science, as well as being one who enjoyed a turn of phrase: the ability to learn to see the world in a slightly romantic way that stroked my ego a from this he would twist what I had and make me want to please him… man he must have been an expert.
“No,” I said, fighting back a spate of trembling. For no matter how much you prepare your mind for trials and tribulations, especially when confronting power, to say nothing of legitimate power (and let’s not forget me and my middle class upbringing which practically whips fealty to state power and its reps from an early age and turns it into a religion), your body, your lizard brain, it knows, and so it starts to rebel, it starts to embarrass you and tremble and threaten to piss, because fuck all your reasons and ethics and morals, this is about survival!
“Then?” He leaned forward, now looking friendly. Must have liked seeing me cower. I straightened out my back.
“I suppose,” I said, now thinking that the whole idea of one basing their belief system on the heart wasn’t that asinine, “that you should treat it with respect. Give it what it needs and you’ll likely get what you need.”
He screwed up his face, stepped away from me and “hmmed” as he started pacing in front of me.
Finally, he stopped and pointed at me. “So you’re a utilitarian?”
“Not sure what that means,” I said. But I knew exactly what he was trying to do. His partner had already done the whole scare approach, the part where they lay out the rules I’ve violated and then show me the futility of fighting them, that I was in their hands. So perhaps I had shown too much of a backbone when presented this evidence, even if it had been fake evidence.
Therefore they knew I knew all their tricks, and this speech about a philosophy that didn’t really exist, couldn’t really exist, perhaps it was meant to show me something about the futility of fighting powers greater than one. That the interrogators had been given the powers of God, and so I was to bow and pray to whatever he chose. That perhaps my recalcitrance had been indicative of the “right forever in the gallows, wrong forever on the throne” attitude that I had been schooled in. That they saw all this and were here to teach me that even a game of shadows such as power can be based on nothing and still hurt one so much? To show me that they were powerful enough to make up anything they wanted to, and so the next thing would be to make me believe it.
If so this nice guy routine was about to be followed by something cruel. I clenched my jaw, waiting for the beating to hit me hard. I will be strong, but the flesh is weak.
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