A Piece of My Heart
You probably noticed you have been seeing more heart shaped images lately. Boxes of candy with red foil coverings. Displays of flowers with red heart covered bows. Among those flower displays are bouquets of red roses. These flowers have become the traditional gift given to show love. To complete the appropriate display of your love, you will need a fancy card. Inside will be the words that express how wonderful is your love for another. Ah, love, isn’t it wonderful!
Let’s see, $15.00 for a box of candy. $25.00 for a dozen red roses if you purchase them at the grocery store. But, if you really want to impress your loved one, send them from a florist. Cost you double, but when your love answers the door, emotions will overwhelm them at the sight of your long stem symbols of love. And don’t forget to pick up a $12.00 card with words of love. Cards come with verses of passionate words, but write in some of your own, then it is a very special card. All those gifts of love for a grand total of $52.00. Added in a kiss and hug when you present them and Cupid will surely reward your efforts on Valentine’s Day with affection. Well, maybe.
Most of the symbolism around Valentine’s Day has to do with the heart. We all have a heart, well at least in terms of our physical body. It is sometimes said people without feelings or sympathy for others have no heart. But we all know that is impossible. If I remember correctly from Mrs. Gilmore’s biology class, the human heart is shaped like a large avocado. Except it is not green and bumpy. It weighs about ten ounces in a man and eight in a woman. I thought about writing about the discrepancy in sizes, but then again since this is a Valentine story, I figured I better let that pass without further comment.
For an organ in our body, the heart has an enormous job to do every second of every minute of every day. If we were to assume you are a typical person, your heart beats 72 times a minute. That’s about 4300 times an hour, which means in a day, that’s about 104,000 times. The average person lives into their late seventies, maybe even longer. Over a lifetime your heart, a bundle of muscles about the size of a large fist, pumps 2,000 gallons of life giving blood a day. That means every year your heart pumps 730,000 gallons of blood. To give you some idea how much that is. An Olympic pool is one hundred and sixty four feet long and eighty two feet wide. And has a depth of nine feet. In order to fill it, you need 666,000 gallons of water. That is a lot of water, but your heart pumps more than an Olympic pool full each year.
But why is it the thing that is meant to represent our love is not really shaped like a human heart? Think about it. If you were to buy your loved one a box of candy in the shape of your heart wrapped in a red bow, I don’t think their first response would be, “I love you too”. They would probably say, “Where did that come from!!!?” I don’t believe Cupid will be bringing you anything special that night.
So, if the Valentine heart is not shaped like a human heart, where did its shape originate? There are several ideas as to where its shape comes from. Some say it comes from the shape of an ivy leaf. The leaf in past time was a symbol of fidelity. Other accounts give credit to its shape as representing parts of the female anatomy. In the 17th century, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque had a vision. In her vision there was a heart shape and that heart was surrounded by thorns. It became known as the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It is believed to represent love and devotion.
Probably the origin of its shape is most given to a plant named, Silphium. On the northern coast of Africa was a city associated with the spice and medicine trade in the ancient world. The seeds within the pod of the plant resembles the shape of the valentine heart. The Silphium trade helped to build the city into a major part of the old trade world. The coins of the ancient city were inscribed with a heart shape image.
Since the beginning of recorded history, the shape can be found throughout the world’s culture. Perhaps that may be why the heart is a big part of our civilization. Not only at this time of year, but most every day you may hear references to the heart. That reference may not have anything to do with pumping blood or love.
We refer to the heart every day and may not even realize the reference. I will give some examples. Let me begin by getting to the heart of the problem in telling my story. You may have a broken heart and therefore, be after my own heart. After all, the heart knows what it knows and wants and perhaps you should let your heart be your guide. Success in finding love can only be achieved if you give all your heart and mind. And if you do, it will warm the cockles of your heart. That may be because you have a big heart that is made of gold. And your love is heartfelt, because you have a big heart and you learned the romantic words by heart, I Love You, as we look Through the Lens.