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  • Arrhythmia
  • Dawn Davies (bio)

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Image courtesy of Michael Rosengarten BEng, MD.McGill

[End Page 68]

To heroes and artists and teenagers, the heart represents love. People draw hearts on foggy glass or on dirty car windows; we make heart shapes out of our hands when we pose for selfies, we doodle hearts around the names of our beloved, we wear clothing with hearts on Valentine's Day, we eat heart-shaped chocolates out of heart-shaped boxes. We say, "I heart you" when we are too cowardly to admit we really mean "love." In pop music, which so often tries to encapsulate the pain of love, you can have a hungry heart, a cheating heart, a lonely heart. You can have a broken heart, or you can be the breaker of hearts. You can [End Page 69] have a heart of glass or a heart of gold. If you get dumped and you have beseeched someone to stop dragging your heart around while also begging them to not phunk with it, you can stay at a heartbreak hotel. If so inclined, you can join a lonely hearts club band. Or, if your hair is appropriately teased to high heaven and you are wearing your parachute pants and pining away for someone so badly, if you really need someone tonight, and you need them more than ever, you can have a total eclipse of the heart. It's so romantic.

Matters of the heart can also be religious or meditative. Within the chakra system, the fourth chakra is the heart chakra. Also known as the balance point of all the chakras, a healthy heart chakra is responsible for overall well-being; an unbalanced chakra screws with a body's physical function. Catholics relate to a sacred heart and consider that the actual heart of Jesus Christ represents his love for all humanity. Ancient Egyptians believed that after death you would embark on a voyage through the underworld, where ultimately, much as in the Judeo-Christian experience of standing in judgment before God, you would stand before Anubis, who would measure your heart on a set of sacred scales. If deemed worthy, your heart would be returned to you and you could go on to your afterlife. If you were bad while alive, your heart would be confiscated, and no afterlife for you. In some Christian circles you might hear, when someone is inspired to offer their time or money to a cause, that they "have a heart for" something.

Socially or in business you can be a bleeding heart, or you can be heartless. You can acknowledge someone's envy by telling them to eat their heart out. As a people, we are fixated on the many metaphors the heart provides. Despite this, we are rarely called on to think about our physical hearts, though we can feel them beating in our bodies, pumping life-giving blood to keep us alive. It's a constant we take for granted, like the ticking of a clock that we can tune in to or ignore at will, without giving it a second thought. The heart of a person who lives to be eighty will beat around 3,363,840,000 times. Two minutes without a heartbeat and you are, as they say medically, a goner. What is it like to have your heart give up on you? I'll tell you:

First off, it will wake you from sleep in the middle of the night. This is bad. Being awakened from a deep sleep has never heralded good news. No one has ever woken you to announce that you have just won a sum of money, or that your crush is in love with you, or that the test results were negative, or that the rent has gone down by three hundred a month. In [End Page 70] the past, you have been awakened by loud parties, crying babies, potty- training puppies, teenagers who have made dumb, midnight mistakes, kidney stones, barking dogs, a peeping tom pinging your window with small pebbles, your stepfather, a fellow card-carrying OCD club member pointlessly cleaning the screens with...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 68-86
Launched on MUSE
2018-10-19
Open Access
No
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