Our fragments, some of the world’s best fuel.
The idea is simple: We are all born with a certain, shall we say, measurement of the heart, so let’s call it a heart-value. It’s always a complete whole when we were born, ‘cos our hearts are formed for love – the necessary ingredient to keep the world’s engines running – and ready to be used as fuel for it.
No baby enters the world already corrupt, with rails to guard their hearts and sentries set up to watch out for them (maybe except for Mummy, but that’s a different sort of guardian altogether). A baby’s heart is full, complete and grand.
But this heart-value undergoes a complicated set of Math as life progresses. The algorithm isn’t clear; there are no immutable laws and concrete formulas that help us calculate the spike-and-dip of the heart-value.
Speaking about the heart’s fuel, you hear things like, “Love in the heart isn’t put there to stay. Love isn’t there till you give it away.” which is stupendously incongruent to Math. Give one to gain a billion?
So then we do the foolish by willingly giving pieces of ourselves away. Like, when we believe in the big things in life. Or when we commit the smallest foolishest act of falling in love. Just like what had happened with Scattered Sarandon.
She handed over her self so easily, carelessly, unabashedly. So keen to share all her inner demons and flighty fantasies, confident that she wanted to be this intimate with a person she loved and who must love her back just as much.
To tell you the truth, Scattered Sarandon’s heart-value was at an astonishing all-time personal best then. It was her record high.
Until the relationship ended and that value took a nose-dive like stock market crashes.
She was completely stripped of her heart-value. Scattered Sarandon had given herself so freely she was left all over the place. Her core, her soul, the pixels that made her, her very essence, had been generously offered to the one who no longer bothered to hold them sacred.
And what happens when that holy-of-holies of ourselves had been wholly distributed? We’ve got nothing left! That’s what happened to Scattered Sarandon. An empty shell she was.
In some places, she had an inkling of who she used to be — when she remembered how she had laughed over spilled coffee here, or had an epiphany in the theatre there.
In other moments, she could recall what she used to feel for — stray animals she lingered on the roadside with, the wildfire that burned within her when she looked at the stars and knew that someday she was going to cross that vast threshold and go interstellar to join her dreams.
But she would now ask herself, How real can this knowledge be if I had also known he wouldn’t have treated my heart so carelessly… and been so thoroughly wrong?
Scattered Sarandon’s heart-value’s definitely in the negative. She had nothing left to give because she was in fragments and those fragments were specks in the wind and dust in the storms.
— Well, that may be so, but let’s say one day, Scattered Sarandon decided to reclaim herself.
It’s an arduous task.
— Yes, but not impossible. She would duel her demons. She would surpass her pain, her memory, go through, you know, the seven stages of grief. Then she would take stock of herself, you know, make a ‘Toss or Keep’ pile. I believe that hope alone would raise her heart-value.
I have no doubt you’re right. And I know where you’re going with this. Yes, she would recover and heal, and her heart-value would slowly be restored to normal. She would live her life with her heart-value going up and down accordingly, as and when she experiences love, hope, yadda yadda. And the opposite would be true. So at best, she might remain at her personal average, whatever that may be.
— Yes, exactly. You paint a picture of her in agony and suffering but that was just one episode in her life story, one setback which ought to be discarded, buried , immemorialised, honoured… whatever it may be, it was in the past…
And that’s where we differ. Humans are fragile. Multiply one episode of failure and you begin to see a pattern of pain. Throw in some family dramas, unreconciled arguments, a neglected birthday, a forgotten anniversary, hurtful gossip, tantrums and meltdowns, deaths, ah death — that one’s a bigger piece of cake to swallow…
— I get it. Life’s many pitfalls and setbacks.
Yes. Scattered Sarandon, I am sure, might have forgotten those initial pangs, but her heart’s definitely not in the right place like that baby we talked about earlier. No rails to guard their hearts nor sentries set up to watch out for them? Pfft. Only in infancy can they be so infantile!
— But you see, the Math is meant to be wrong, as you cleverly pointed out earlier. Added moments of victories may bring up one’s heart-value and desolation will almost definitely bring it down. But in desolation, one can find comfort too, and in those moments of darkness, every flickering hope captured weighs more than its original.
When we grasp at straws in desperation, that act of reaching out is a declaration of hope, and that far outweighs those potential straws we cannot grab.
If in the shadows of our hearts, we catch a glimmer of light that once was but may have been extinguished, and we catch a breath that lets a pulse of that light through, our heart-value just spiked because of that breath of permission to believe.
When one cries in heartbreak but places a hand over that same heart and allow every tear to represent a moment of grace, those tears are made vessels for which life can break through the dark, and they definitely are made more worthy than ever before.
You know it, just as I do, that it is in the embracing of our pain that our hearts can be topped up again, if only because that embrace means our surrender, that if given a choice, we would suffer all over again for those singular moments of love.
Still, I have to remind you, Scattered Sarandon will have pieces she can never reclaim. Never take back because like it or not, they’re gone.
— Maybe they would have anyway. You know that no heart-value ever remains the same. Try to maintain that aggregate but it just dips with every decade if you don’t invest in it.
And you can call her Scattered Sarandon if you want. Fragmented Francis. Asundered Ashley. Divided Drey… whatever you like.
In the end, what they’ve left behind is always a fraction of the whole, and that whole is astoundingly replenished by unparalleled worth and measure through acts and decisions borne from goodwill, courageous hearts, and guileless intents…
… none of which can exist without those original painful fragments. In that splintering from the original source comes newly discovered channels for grace to restore their heart-value so they can invest again as fuel for the world.
So I say, every fragment matters.
Well, we’ll see. So what do we do with this one?
Have faith, my friend. These creatures, they’re enduring. They require time to grieve, mourn losses and sometimes, even self-destruct. But their core is strong and their essence, divine. They’ll find a way to beat the odds. Just you wait and see.
I write this for my young kids who dare to love again and again despite injury and little treacheries; small hearts who aren’t afraid to reach out to embrace the world. And I think to myself, when I grow up, I want to be just like them.
This story was first published on The Junction.