How to Look at a Heart
© Copyright 2017 Karolina Fedorcio, Ryerson University
They say home is where the heart is, but what if the heart is the home? Nestled behind the ribbed white picket fence, the heart opens its doors to new blood cells each second. It invites the tired, oxygen depleted members of the bodily family into its chambers to rest. Those gone blue from exhaustion can depend on their Aortic Guardian to grant them a place to stay. Albeit, temporarily.
The heart is a mystery.
Not because we do not know its function, but because we often take for granted its dependent rhythmic presence. We seldom have a chance to see it, and when we do, the version which we see is often distorted. A gory scene from a horror movie, a tired gray organ floating in formaldehyde, or a two dimensional cartoonish symbol of Valentine’s Day. In these instances the heart becomes something distant and foreign, and may cause us to feel a certain degree of disconnect. The heart may very well be all of these things, but above all, it is a home.
It is a four-bedroom residence where the walls are paper thin membrane and the rugs are woven with blue and red thread. It is ritualistic, systematic. Tired members always enter through the front door, feed in one chamber, rest in the others, and leave through the backdoor each day. As each valve-like door closes shut, your body feels its reverberations. A physical reminder of all that your blood family does for you.
The home must be a safe-haven, and so must the heart. The cells which enter rely on the hospitality of arteries and veins, who grant their children the sustenance they need. The cells spend endless hours working as traveling salesmen – providing life to all areas of the body. Their work is tiresome. They must take on 24 hour shifts with no pause, for any pause would be equivalent to your death. They must learn how to co-exist with trillions of co-workers. It is only fair for them to have a guaranteed place of rest.
Visualize this. The doorbell unexpectedly rings and your heart begins to race – the feeling of millions of blood cells rushing around the cardiovascular home. Some people wipe their dirty shoes on your WELCOME mat and do not even bother to knock. You may feel as if your heart is broken but until its chamber walls cave in, you will remain standing.
What happens when we begin to see our hearts not as organs, but as homes?
If blood cells become children, if arteries and veins become fathers and mothers, if valves become doors and chambers living rooms and kitchens? Put a roof over it, imagine bright windows, rooms filled with laughter. The structure of a home greatly mimics the structure of the heart. Different parts have different duties, but they must work together for the system to remain intact. The arteries, veins, cells, valves, and chambers are all a part of your family. You must remember to cherish them, be thankful, and never take their endless support and love for granted.
Elkins, James. How to Use Your Eyes. Routledge, 2000.
Lynch, Patrick J. “Heart anterior normal anatomy.” Wikimedia Commons, Jaffe Carl. Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License Yale University School of Medicine. 23 December 2006, commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Heart_anterior_normal_anatomy.jpg
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