What Good Is My Beating Heart?

Lisbeth Essays, Life

What good is my beating heart if I keep it locked inside a box? Shoved under the table so it stays safe. Or buried in notebooks piled up on the floor and stuffed in drawers. Isolated. Pristine. Unable to be touched, marred, hurt, devastated, destroyed, reborn, resurrected, pulsing, throbbing, a phoenix in its spectacular rise from the ashes.

What good are those thoughts, those longings, those universal truths if I show them to no one?

I don’t mean all of them. Some thoughts are not — nor ever will be — ready for the light of day. Some need only to be held by my lover, and then only after I know my heart is safe, or unsafe as it were, because once you give your heart you never really feel safe again.

A heart, can’t — shouldn’t — stay silent. As stupid as it sounds, that is not what hearts are made for. But fear strikes us mute or muffles our words so they are unintelligible, much as if we put a hand over a mouth and forced a scream into the fleshy palm. We think that silence buys us time, or peace. But silence often buys nothing, a nothing that sprawls over life like the darkest of clouds and strangles many a flower in its bud, a frost on a bloom that never gets to erupt into a single, glorious color. And wisdom eludes us.

Perhaps the answer is no more silenced screams. No more fleshy palms. Perhaps salvation lies in being insane enough to think you can escape the dark cloud through simple speech. And then to do so.

To be brave is to speak and act, no matter the consequences. We know this in life, yet we force ourselves to learn the lesson again and again.

So, I ask you: What good is your beating heart if you keep it locked inside a box?


“Life is always either a tightrope or a feather bed. Give me the tightrope.” — Edith Wharton, Journals: March, 1926

Lisbeth Essays, Life

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