The heart prepares us for life.

“There are a hundred ways to kneel and kiss the ground”


I sit here, eyes softened looking at the neighbor’s large tree. Maybe an elm, all its delicate branches dangly and floating in the breeze. Today it started, one leaf, two, then a gust blows more into the yard. But the tree is still green, for the most part. These yellow leaves that have departed it are just on the early side, foreshadowing of a lifecycle that plays out every day in millions of ways. The heartbeat of water from the deep and still flowing Mission creek feeding that tree for over a hundred years now. What has it seen. And what has seen it. Pulsing, pushing, until, it is enough. And the leaf lets go. Or the tree lets go.

My eyes close, only for a few seconds. The city is so still right now, the blanket of fog dampening the evening, quieting the din of bodies moving and toiling and doing and being. I hear my heartbeat, a light rhythm in my ear. I wonder how many times it has beaten in my life. Does the heart beat more when it aches? Or when it’s horizontal, or at 30,000 feet. What about the year and more of chemotherapy, the echocardiograms to check and see if the dosage is having damage, if we should pull back, to keep intact this essential life force? Maye there is too much waste, not enough oxygen and nutrients. Or what does the heart think of the long tail of pills and shots with the nonchalantly-tossed-out risk of arterial calcification?

I think of my Dad and how his imperfect heart saved his life. First draft number called to Vietnam, going away party and all. Only to have a before-silent heart murmur discovered in his physical.

Does the heart beat more when it discovers joy?

My eyes wonder to her, the top of her new head, her soft spot. I see it – the pulse pulse thump thump of her four-chambered heart whooshing the blood around and around her tiny body. I see her fist, opening and clenching, almost in a beat, the size of her own heart.

We first heard her heartbeat on a warm autumn day. All the leaves of the elm tree were long crumbled and gone by then. The whoosh thump swoosh – fainter and louder and fainter again only to come back roaring. They said, the variability is a good sign. You want those ups and downs, crescendos and diminuendos.

In all these ways, I think the heart prepares us for life.

How to Grow and Care for Elm Trees | HGTV
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