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 []

responses to “The story of the heart” 10

  1. I constantly kick myself for not going to see it when it was in Edmonton in 2008.

    I want to see it so bad, if it is still in TO when I am home in Feb I will most def be checking it out. I think it would be fascinating.

  2. @Penny: I too can understand why some people don’t want to see it. I hope though that they can understand why some people DO 🙂 that’s all I ask. p.s. so good seeing you posting (on your blog and here) again. I missed you!

    @miss tique: I hope you get to see it, it’s amazing 🙂

  3. I went to see it in London about 8 years ago or so for a school trip. I probably wasn’t old enough to fully appreciate everything – but the one thing that stuck out in my mind was the room with the babies. I will never forget that, it seems like it had the same effect on you. That letter about the heart does sound very moving, what a lovely thought.

    Personally I think the exhibition is good but I can understand why some people don’t want to see it. When you’re there, I think you forget what you’re really looking at at times and have to think a little deeper. But when you do it does really hit you at points like with the babies.

  4. @Bitter Chocolate: I don’t think that makes you narrow minded; not everyone can love everything – if we did, life would be boring right? There’s nothing wrong with not liking it and it’s even better that you’re honest about it 🙂

    @Julie: I thought you might 🙂 I thought of you guys (and Bonnie) a bit while I was going through… thinking you guys would have loved it! I hope you guys do get to go again!

    @Cromely: Wow your post was MUCH more informative than mine was! I’m so glad you enjoyed it too 🙂

    @Web-Betty: Hi! So great seeing you! And I know some people have a hard time with it and that’s ok; it isn’t for everyone I get that 🙂 And thank you so much for the wonderful compliment. I love writing (and especially creative writing) so it means a lot to me to know that people like the way I write! {{hugs}}

  5. Hi Fragileheart! It’s been awhile. 🙁

    I have never been able to bring myself to visit these shows. While I appreciate what they mean for learning and science, I just don’t have what it takes to see these displays and know they were once living, breathing people. The fetus would definitely have freaked me out.

    I’m glad to see you’re writing again. You certainly have a gift for it.

  6. I LOVED the Bodies exhibit. Colin still talks about it and we went several years ago. I will definitely go again if I get a chance. We learned much more than we could have from an anatomy textbook! We loved all the veins and arteries, too. I rushed through the room with fetuses because it thoroughly creeped me out to the extreme! My mom still asks for more grandkids…but we’re DONE! Hehehe

  7. I remember when it was in Czech Republic, but I didn’t go. I saw it on TV, and what I saw honestly didn’t make me even a little tempted to check it out in person… rather made me sick. I don’t know, I think art and corpses just shouldn’t mix. Maybe I’m narrow-minded.

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