The story of the heart

“Sometimes a man finds his destiny on the road he took to avoid it.” — Clive Owen playing Louis Salinger in The International.

While I realise the following may only be an example of the above on a smaller scale than Eric Singer1 intended when he wrote this line, but I hope you forgive me for the use of it anyway. I was looking forward to something like The Body Worlds exhibit because it was scientific, and educational; despite being an exhibit that promised a focus on the heart2 I honestly thought I would be able to avoid the emotions that have been swirling around my entire body for the last few weeks or so. I’m sure you can guess by the way I’ve introduced this… but I was wrong in thinking so.

I expected to be more interested in the muscles in our bodies, the bones and whatever else but I ended up being fascinated by the nervous system3 and shamelessly, I will admit that it has a little something to do with Grey’s Anatomy. McDreamy and Meredith’s passion for neurology and their desire to find ways to fix problems we can’t possibly fathom even beginning to try to fix in ourselves4… made me curious about these tiny little tubes the run through our entire body and breathe life into us. I was enchanted, mesmerized and extremely emotional and I can’t help but wonder if I would have felt the same had I seen the same exhibit two months ago. Two months ago, my poem writing count was 20 poems smaller than it is now. Two months ago, I could barely write in my diary. Two months ago, I wouldn’t have known how great it feels to just sit and feel your skin on edge from emotion.

I was a little creeped out at some points; there were moments where I tried to imagine who the person was. This person kneeling in front of me… skinless, cut up and frozen in time. Who were they, and what happened to them that led them to this display case? But I had to put that out of my head and just be thankful I could learn what I was learning. I decided instead to focus on how good it feels to not be numb. It feels good to know that I can talk about what I want to talk about and know that I won’t be judged. The exhibit reminded me how important it is to feel; not just our emotions but to feel your entire body and all the little things going on inside5.

There was a letter from a heart donor recipient to their donor6 and the last line in the letter read, “Everyone wants to look back at their lives and  realise that they left a trace. I am your trace. Thank you!” and my eyes involuntarily filled with tears. It was a really heartfelt letter to begin with, but to end it with those words really touched me. Though it wasn’t all as pleasant as these parts I’ve already described. There was a special section on fetuses and it made me a little sick to my stomach7, for not only did my Mum ask me for a grandchild the day8 before but here I was staring at an 8 week old fetus the size of a grape and it had a mouth, eyes, a nose and all the other things that make us look human. It was fascinating and terrifying, and I hope I never have to see it again.

And now for my favourite part: They had these configurations of arteries to simulate what various body parts would look like if all you were left with were the arteries. They looked like beautiful, soft pillows… with blood vessels so tiny, they can only be described as delicate. I honestly wanted one… probably the heart as a piece of art to display. I think it’d suit, right? Fragileheart? hehe Anyway, I think I’ve probably creeped out quite a number of you already with this post so I’ll stop.

Just tell me this, What did you think of the Body Worlds: The Story of the Heart exhibit?

  1. he wrote the screenplay for ‘The International’ as per IMDb []
  2. as an organ in our body, not the vessel that carries our very being []
  3. our arteries mainly []
  4. how’s that for a mouthful? []
  5. and obviously, the big things too []
  6. I guess that means it was an open letter since the donor would not have been alive to read it []
  7. not much gets this reaction from me []
  8. wondering how many of you will actually catch this little insert []