Monday, September 19, 2016


When you first heard the expressions "heartbreak" and "heartbroken," you were still at the age where literalness prevailed. You might from time to time have challenged a particular outcome, and were already at the state where your prime targets for such challenge were your parents. 

But for most practical purposes, the present moment was either early or late; you were either hungry or not, which pretty well determined how many helpings you'd take of one of your mother's remarkable concoctions.

Indeed, memory serves up the dish of your mother being the one who served up the concepts of heartbreak and heartbroken in her presentation to you of the Madame Butterfly story, where Butterfly was left waiting for a Pinkerton who would never return.  "Heartbroken," your mother, who loved such stories of heartbreak, said. She would later tell you the same thing of beautiful young Ray Schmidt from Cincinnati and Fannie Hurst's novel, Back Street.

Your mother presented so many of these heartbreak scenarios to you while you were still in that stage of taking things for all their literal worth and not one metaphoric inch beyond that you reckoned you'd have to do some research into the matter. To be specific, you wanted to know if a heart, like a leg or arm, could actually break. 

You'd had enough experience to have known of individuals you'd seen in a cast or sling, even to the point of knowing an individual who attempted to use his own broken wrist in a similar manner to Tom Sawyer making profit from his chore of whitewashing the fence.

Although hearts may experience various sorts of trauma, often associated with blocked arteries, they do not break as such, although they do suffer. Your researches and observations led you to a more hyperbolic platform, where your surroundings did in fact expand, blossom, explode in fact toward one of your favorite concepts and visions, synecdoche.

Heartbreak completes an equation in which loss is a major factor. One pines for something lost, perhaps something lost at the last moment, perhaps even with some victorious outcome in sight. Heartbreak keeps company with A.E. Houseman's heart being laden with rue. 

One of the attendant benefits of heartbreak resides in the way it can be experienced without undergoing in real time a wrenching loss. Heartbreak can be experienced through listening to music, watching dance, reading or hearing poetry read, reading various types of essay, and through reading of short stories and novels. 

Another aspect of heartbreak, one sometimes forgotten in the rush to get things said and sorted out for yourself: Why write a story if it does not break your heart?

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