The Frailty of that Thing in Your Chest

Humans are many things. They are bipedal. They are intelligent. They have opposable thumbs, and they even have souls. But I think that above all, humans are frail.

What’s the frailest part of a human you might ask? Is it that thing in your head that controls all the other things? Is it that thing in your back that the thing in your head uses to tell all the other things what to do?

No. In my opinion, the frailest part of a human is that thing in your chest. Although, I suppose I don’t mean that in the most literal sense. I mean it in the sense that has probably touched a lot more people than arrhythmia; I mean it in the sense that it can get broken, and pretty easily I would say.

Isn’t it strange that the thing that rhythmically keeps you alive and the thing that causes you to fall in love and cry six times in one day share the same name? I guess it isn’t so strange though, considering that pain in either of them will cause you to feel like you’re dying, regardless of whether the actual imminence of your death is fact or fiction.

I suppose that’s why they share the same name.

Sometimes I wonder what would happen if humans didn’t have the second thing. (Because, obviously, you must have the first thing in order to be alive.) Wouldn’t it make things a lot easier? If that were the case, you would always know what the pain in that thing in your chest meant. There would be no instances of you feeling like you were going to die while being perfectly, completely healthy. Wouldn’t that be so much simpler?

But the thing is, that second thing does so much more than making you feel like you’re going to die when there’s pain in it. Because it also does that thing where it makes you want to spend all of your time with one person. It makes you feel like nothing else matters when you’re with that person.

What does the first thing do when there isn’t any pain in it? It functions. It keeps you alive. But nothing more than that.

And that’s the beauty of the second thing. It’s frail, but it also contains an unpredictable magic.

When the right combination of people, circumstances, and will come together, it creates a magic that can’t quite be described. Humans have a word for that magic, but it gets hijacked a lot to mean lots of different things that aren’t actually it.

But then that frailty comes in again. If you take out just one of those three magic ingredients: chaos. But I think the worst is when only the circumstances are wrong. The people are there and the will is there, but the circumstances don’t fit. When that happens, it just feels like the whole world is pitted against you. No one did anything wrong, so there’s no one to blame and there’s no one to be mad at.

What are you supposed to do then, when there’s no possible way to justify taking out your pain on someone else, when all of your insides feel hollow, when none of it really seems to make sense, and when you don’t know what you’re even supposed to do?

At that point, the only thing left to do is to reflect on all the good memories and be thankful for what was, instead of pining away for what could’ve been. Because all of those hazy, golden memories will always be there, but the future you envisioned might never be. And a lot of the time, you’ll find yourself saying that regardless of the pain that got into that thing in your chest, you still wouldn’t go back and change a thing, because it was all perfect the way it was, even if it ended the way it did.

But that doesn’t mean that you don’t try again. And it certainly doesn’t mean that you should stop creating your visions of the future. C.S. Lewis said something about how letting that thing create its magic is equivalent to being vulnerable, open to being broken, because by letting that magic happen with anyone or anything, there’s always the possibility that thing in your chest will get some pain in it.

But that’s just the frailty of that thing in your chest. Because humans also aren’t many things. They aren’t perfect. They aren’t invincible. They aren’t unbreakable. But most of all, they aren’t always strong, and they aren’t always immune to pain.

Because humans are frail. And the frailest part of a human is that thing in your chest. And even though sometimes pain gets into it, it’s almost always worth it in the end.