Thursday, July 18, 2013

A Limited Heart

They say that the average human heart is roughly the size of a fist. Small, pink, meaty. A delicacy, if you ask the right monster. And, yes, any monster is the right monster. It’s a well-known monster-fact. Just think of all those wonderful monster-movie moments, clawed hand ripping through skin, muscle, bone…not to crush the heart, but to salvage it. Is there anything more tantalizing than the moment that monster is discovered, its hands, its maw dribbling with the excess juices, the blood?

If you ask someone, either a horror aficionado or someone like myself with at least a modest appreciation for the genre, why we find the idea so titillating…you will get a number of responses. Someone, inevitably and invariably, will profess that the monster desires to be human, that the act of feasting is an act of possession, of ownership. Perhaps, if the monster consumes enough raw red humanity, enough heart, the monster might understand the mystery of what it means to love.

You are what you eat?

 And it’s all about love in the monster-movies. Frankenstein’s monster wanted companionship, love, acceptance. Doesn’t every monster? If you’ve seen Warm Bodies (a zombie movie for those generally disinclined), it’s the perfect example. The zombie feasts upon the brain (almost perfect example) and, for a brief flash of time, lives again…in the memories of his victim.

Of course, with all monster movies, or enough of them as to make no never-mind, humanity is the hero. Whether the monster becomes human, or is murdered by the humanity it craves, that sense of empathy is touted as the holy grail…a monster seeking it either to consume or destroy, humanity preserving it against all odds. Humanity, love, compassion, it is drawn in expansive sweeps of hope.

We want humanity to be the shining example. We want our heroes to triumph, not because they are smart or funny or bad-a**. We want them to triumph because they care. Everyone always looks to Han Solo as the ultimate in reluctant heroes, all that swagger and edgy attitude. We love the fact that he shot first (no amount of digital revision will make my geek-heart believe otherwise). This, we think, means he’s real, a mix of good and bad together…the way we all are. But, underneath, that heart…beats. He cares even when he tries not to. Humanity is the hero…that whisper in his ear that, yes, yes, that farm-boy matters, that princess.

I submit that it is a fiction. Literally, of course. Figuratively, definitely. Humanity can’t be the hero. The human heart is flawed. It will fail. It beats 60-100 times every minute…until it doesn’t. We care…about family, friends, the world…until we don’t.  We like to think that the human heart has no limitation on love, on forgiveness. We tell ourselves to be kinder, better, gentler.

I made a resolution a while back…I wanted to be a wonderful person. Yes, those words exactly…a “wonderful” person.

It sounds funny. And, before anyone tries to reassure me, let me tell you…I am not a wonderful person. I am an okay person. I love my family. I resent the hell out of them sometimes but I thank God every day that he put them in my life. It is one blessing I have never doubted. I try to be polite, kind where I can. I struggle for kindness. My tendency is to withdraw and kindness suffers for seclusion. The world? Is too big. In theory, I care about everything…except I don’t. I can’t. I don’t have it in me. It is too hard and it takes too much effort.

And I’ve come to the conclusion that…we’re all the same. Every heart is limited. Every heart has a boundary, flesh and blood and a mis-timed valve, a blocked artery, an expiration date. The wonderful people I have met…are a surface-shot perfection. I have little doubt that, x-ray vision or monster claws, I would find their hearts equally small, pink and imperfect. We are creatures of glut and famine.  Kindnesses are doled out…like candy after Halloween, a flood of sugar-high excitement followed by weeks of carefully rationed portions, and months thereafter of nothing.

And isn’t that fun? As a writer, really, isn’t that why we love to write…because humanity is flawed and limited? Because we all want to be wonderful people…and none of us actually are? Isn’t that why we go to the movies…to watch our monster half devour that wonderful facade we call our heart?

Row 80 Update: 300+ words a day, yes. 2 Blogs a week; this week yes, but still have to make up a post from last week. July submission and novel rewrite are still on the “to do” list.
WOK Blog Challenge: Behind 1 entry from last week
WOK 20K: 6897/20K. Caught Up!
Camp Nano: 3267/25K Not so caught up…hmmm.
Magic Spreadsheet: 23,301 words since June 2, 46 day chain, 1149 points, Level 2.

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