Sunday, February 14, 2010

What becomes of the broken hearts?

Hearts are breaking every day. The remarkable thing about them is that they almost always recover. And so last night, while I was in bed half asleep, (having my new recurring nightmare about receiving strings of very important instant messages but being unable to comprehend them, and alternately) thinking deep thoughts, it occurred to me to wonder, what happens when hearts break? And what is the mechanism by which they heal?

Judging by my obsessive ponderings, the answer to this abstract and thoroughly metaphorical question is apparently crucial to know, so let's consider a few possibilities.

When hearts break, do they shatter like glass? Scattering in all directions, leaving shards to injure anyone who touches them? Must you repair them by hand, laboriously gathering up the pieces one by one, fitting them back together only with intense concentration? A broken glass can only be glued with special resins, and it will always bear visible cracks. Is a heart, once broken, also doubly fragile and riddled forever with the marks of its past ordeal?

Being of biological nature, perhaps a heart does not so much break as "suffer," exhibiting such symptoms as oozing blood, cell necrosis, and neurological pain. In that case it would heal all on its own, over time, but it would never be the same afterward. Are broken hearts like wounded flesh, disfigured, scarred, still working but crippled?

Broken bones are biological, too. Maybe hearts break like bones do--screaming agony followed by months of dull aching. Properly treated, a broken bone can't be detected from the outside, and I suppose the same holds true of a broken heart. But however undetectable, a broken bone is always broken. A little too much stress can fracture it again. And I suppose that holds true of a broken heart as well.

Wouldn't it be nice if hearts broke like Silly Putty? Stretch them to their breaking point, and they snap, with a satisfying little popping noise and crisp-looking edges that are so fun to poke at. But put the pieces back together, warm them up, and, voila! Brand new heart! Like nothing ever happened to it!

I guess any of these analogies are possible. It's all in how the heart's owner looks at things, and how selective their memory is. In any case, now that Valentine's Day is over, you can be spared any more of my depressive ponderings and my relentless search for the perfect metaphor for everything. Next post, back to your regularly scheduled facetiousness.