Why The Heart?

Jane Seymour's "Open Hearts" line.

I am really not a fan of the heart.

Here is the problem with the human heart, and its use as a symbol around this time every year: it has everything to do with life, but almost nothing to do with love. The organ in charge of love is the same one that manages the children, the mortgage, and the checkbook: the brain.

Human beings are a species of the highest order. Love, as we play it out among our lovers, friends, and families, is a very complex and delicate thing. So why do we consign it to that poor southern organ? The dumb one, the one that beats and beats, and clogs, and finally breaks?

We don’t even draw it correctly. Look at this:

Where’s the ascending aorta in that?

I think there is a reason people dread Valentine’s Day. It celebrates all the wrong things: new affection over depth of experience; sight over feeling; function (thump, thump, thump, pound) over decision.

Yes, decision: the lightness of that moment when you know exactly what love means, and what you are willing to do for it. This is not always a wonderful moment. It doesn’t feel great to buy a plane ticket to fly to your parents late on a Sunday night, when one of them has had a heart attack (there you go; that’s what hearts do. They seize up and fail).

But love does that. Hours, miles, hundreds of dollars later, you feel better. You have acted in its thrall and it has led you where it always does: deeper in.

Maybe if what we celebrated were the decision over the dumb, we’d have Conversation Brains. Perhaps Necco would make the candies bigger. Maybe they’d have smarter sayings on them. “I think, therefore I love.” “How do I love thee?” The binary code for the word “love”.

And because they’d be brains, and zombies are very big right now, at least one in every bag would need to quietly say, “Om nom nom.”

For Brainy Valentine’s Day, people could give each other books. They could devise small treasure hunts inside their homes that led to small things they’d made for each other. Geeks would know exactly what to do. They’d spend weeks, months, building the perfect beautiful or funny thing, online — and after the loved one saw it, the rest of us could. Brainy Valentine’s Day might grown into the Super Bowl of geeky love and invention.

We could turn the commercial day of love on its head, and change the world.

Should we continue in the annual celebration of the stupid heart, we might want to come up with different gifts for it. First: No more diamonds. Has there ever been a dumber idea than celebrating a thing that breaks all the time with something that never does?

New-generation gifts for fans of the heart should be a lot more honest about what it is and how often it fails. Next year, let’s see people walking around not with three-stone necklaces, but with old copies of Robohelp, Windows Vista patches, new relationships with John Mayer, and Middle East peace accords.

And if you insist on continuing your “Open-Hearts” line, Jane Seymour, let’s see some truth in it. Attend a surgery or two.

Let’s see you add some clamps to those suckers.


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