It’s that time of year when I get all my health exams done, that week or two before I mark one more year on the calendar.
This year, it’s pretty special because I turn golden.
My father never made it to 50; his heart stopped beating at age 49. I guess you can understand why this birthday is such a big deal for me.
I have another good friend who had two older brothers who never made it to 50. My friend is the only boy left in his family. So when the big day came, he was over the moon.
In the hospital today, they attached a gadget called the Holter monitor to my body. I need to keep it on for the next 24 hours.
The Holter is a portable device that continuously monitors various electrical activity of the cardiovascular system for at least 24 hours. It records electrical signals from the heart via a series of electrodes attached to the chest.
These electrodes are connected to a small piece of equipment attached to a small device which I’ll keep in my pocket for the next 24 hours. It will keep a log of my heart’s electrical activity throughout the recording period.
My heart has an interesting electrical circuitry. Earlier this year, I had to learn the hard way not to overload it with stress because then it sort of “short circuits” and then I palpitate like crazy.
So my friends asked: “What happens when you fall in love?” Interesting question.
Heart on her sleeve
Since I discovered that I have this congenital condition, I’ve realized that it’s when I am happiest and at peace that my heart is on its best behavior. It is when I am sad, upset, angry or stressed that I feel it flutter.
I’ve always been known as someone who wears her heart on her sleeve. My heart is and will always be my barometer, and my north star. She (my heart) and I have traveled quite a journey the last 50 years. Roads that have been punctuated with so much grief, but with so much joy as well.
Sometime this year, she gave me a scare, but it was good because it really got me thinking about my life and everything I have been through. The realization was that from then on, I wouldn’t take any more drama. It was very bad for my heart.
I also swore to speak out always what was inside my heart, lest I overloaded and short-circuited it. I’ve learned that yes, you give as much as you can, but you’ve also got to protect yourself from users and abusers. Walking away, letting go, speaking up, knowing one’s priorities and choosing to be happy always become so much easier after a health scare.
Still, it did not deter me from loving and caring for the people that my heart beats for. I just know when to stop giving, and not to take things personally anymore.
There is a famous quote that has been wrongly attributed to the Buddha that pretty much sums up the way I now choose to live the next decades that God will give me—“In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.”
I have found that time spent in solitude, prayer, and practicing these three tenets—loving well, living gently, and letting go gracefully—has helped create a happier and more peaceful heart in me.
On my way out of the hospital today, I saw a group of super seniors, I like to call them, those who belong to the age group of 75 and above. They were having socials as part of the grandma and grandpa club of St. Luke’s Medical Center in Bonifacio Global City.
Some were still sprightly, others had to walk aided, or with a cane. Still others were on wheelchairs.
I watched them from a distance, looked at their faces, and wondered what stories their hearts held.
My heart’s journey, like many others, in hindsight, has been a series of loving and letting go. Maybe I’ve done it more often than others but I wouldn’t change a thing.
I also realize though that turning golden means you are slowly creeping into the senior years, and so you’ll need to take extra and better care of that ticker—physically, spiritually, emotionally.
I came across a beautiful passage today from a piece called “Moving On Is Like Rehab,” and it reads: “You’ll cry because in her chest—in your chest—for the first time since you can remember, you can hear a heartbeat. A single, whole, quiet heartbeat. That’s what moving on is. The realization, the flash of summer sunlight, the moment of impossible, blessed, sacred clarity in which you irrevocably understand. You gave him your heart. And now, it’s come back to you again.”
Yes, that’s exactly how it feels. And each time you get it back, you become, stronger, braver, and yes, wiser because of it.