I never dissected a heart in school and my only experience with heart was when it was diced and pan fried with garlic, onion and white wine. It was a very strange experience, slicing into this lump of muscle and exposing the valves and ventricles, poke at the tendons with a spike. When watching Grey’s Anatomy the character Cristina Yang talks about the amazing feeling she gets when she holds a heart and cuts into it. She talks about the perfectness of the organ, the key to human existence and object of mystery to the great poets and romantics. I’m seven seasons in and I must have heard about the wonders of the cardiovascular system a hundred times. Yet today at 10:30am, I stared at this organ and felt something strange.
The only other time I’ve had this feeling that I can remember is when I was sitting in a religious studies class and sat passively enjoying the discussion. Something in me told me that I had to research teacher training courses, master’s degrees and all sorts of avenues because something in me said I must. It was like a switch that said: you love this. I still do love the discussion and I make a point of it everyday rather publicly.
Yet today I held a heart in my hand.
It may have been a lamb heart, a lamb with some serious post mortem clotting and some fatty build up in the aorta. Still, it felt right. Almost a cosmic wink in my direction. Here I was, holding a heart after spending years looking for heart within myself and within others and I was just casually holding one, feeling the fibres with a scientific curiosity. It felt very right, and while I did struggle at first to achieve clean cuts with the right-handed specialized scissors, I could see myself finding time to practise this skill. I can see myself badgering colleagues to do it again, to teach me to perfect it and then to sow it back up again like a child with a Fisher-Price doctor playset.
In these moments, as rare as they have been, I watch branching timelines stemming from a single moment. A single revelation. Like somewhere out there in the multiverse and across the infinite ocean of parallel-timelines, all this potential has already been made manifest. In these moments, I love life. I love the infinite possibility of it all.
It’s not just the heart though is it? It’s what it represents to us all. This heart in my hand – how many hearts have I held in my hand and been so careless before? Has it taken to this moment when it’s made manifest for me to realize the delicate nature of our hearts – not in the physical sense but emotional sense. I’ve felt mine break more times than I care to admit and I think I’ve discard and disregarded to many. No more.
So I go into the future, researching medical school in Scotland or the USA and weighing up my debts. But I also go forth with the promise to treat every heart in the chests of fellow humans with the same gentleness and understanding as I provided to the dead lamb. Was it a spiritual moment? I think it was, as I felt this strange desire from outside of me that said: you need to do more, you need to know more, you need to feel more. A friend of mine would call this divine intervention and perhaps it was something else. Perhaps it was a hint of my purpose. A nudge towards my service.
What is your service? What nudges have you felt?
Or perhaps it was nothing at all and these moments allow us to take pause and cherish what we have, what we don’t have and what we know and what we don’t know. A little active passiveness never hurt the soul, after all.
Still, I look good in a lab coat whether it be divine intervention or not.