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  • David Spadavecchia

Heart in a Box

Updated: Dec 17, 2019



I’ve been watching reruns of Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix. Old show, I know, but it is the right time for me to be watching it and I learned something that really resonated, so I thought I’d share it. I learned that if something isn’t at least as half as cool as “heart in a box”, then it’s not worth my time.

For avid fans, you’ll know the reference, and the cocky, kickass surgeon who said it, but for those of you who don’t know, I’ll elaborate.

The character, Christina Yang, is brilliant heart surgeon, she has as explosive life as anyone else on the show, but she’s a fantastic surgeon. So great that her superior offers her a reward - if Yang makes a list of surgeries she has always wanted to do, her attending will do what she can to make it happen. Yang begins to list her desired surgeries, until the old chief of surgery scoffs at her unimaginative and uninspired list, and implores her to seek out “heart in a box”, a heart that has been removed from a donor and is being kept alive at the hospital until it is picked up to be taken to the recipient. She spends the better part of the episode staring at the “heart in a box”, oblivious as to how it is supposed to help her.

Now, the usual process of a heart transplant requires taking the organ out of the donor, placing it on ice, transporting it, placing into the recipient’s body, then waiting for the cold, dead heart to warm up and come back to life. However, in this case, they have used a portable heart perfusion system, a machine that keeps the heart alive by mechanically moving warm blood through it and monitoring it, while it sits in a protective clear enclosure—in other words, a heart in a box. The unique thing about it is that, even though it is between bodies, the heart never stops living. As Yang aptly puts it, “It’s a friggin miracle.”

The reason I am regaling you with my midnight brain fodder, is because at least a dozen times a day I think, am I following my highest excitement, to the best of my ability, right now? The answer, often, is no, no I’m not. Not because I have some detestable or helpless life in which I couldn’t possibly, but because I simply get caught up in routine of things or the busyness of things, and forget. I forget to be excited, can you believe that? Of course you can, because we both know you do it too. We have some of things we want, generally at least the survival things, so we often let our other excitements fall to the wayside, and get on with our less than exciting, self-created obligations. We convince ourselves we have to wait until we can afford the time or money to do it, or that not every minute is meant to be exciting and lack of excitement is just part of the equation, or any and all manner of other limiting excuses. Sometimes, we even question what our highest excitement is at all, because we’ve so buried ourselves in limitation, it seems like some strange and faraway idea, maybe a nice possibility for others, but not made for us. It is in this state that we are at our most unimaginative and uninspired. It is here where we pull the plug on the “heart in a box”.

We often dedicate ourselves to a daily ritual of limiting thoughts, ideas and perspectives that don’t serve us, and then we look around, feeling unexcited, bewildered and wondering, what happened?

Maybe we can even make lists of our excitements, but if we are so excited by them, why aren’t we pursuing them with all of our driving force, as much as we can, as often as we can, with the resources we have, to the best of our ability, right now?

It’s because time and time again, we stop looking at the miracle.

We forget that in each living, breathing, heart beating moment, we are a heart in a box. Our very being is meant to inspire us, enliven us, thrill us! We can, at anytime, no matter the circumstances in our physical world, decide to feel that which excites us the most, take unending steps in the direction of that excitement, and most wonderfully, not be stopped from feeling it, being it or doing it. That, is one heck of a miracle.

We spend a lot of our time doing things that aren’t half as cool as “heart in a box” and we should feel free to take it upon ourselves not to do that anymore. We are miraculous beings, and anything we cannot find the excitement in, is not worth our time.

So the next time you sit there, feeling uninspired and unsure of what you want to be, do or feel, I want you to picture yourself sitting next to a stubborn, cynical, life-saving surgeon, sitting in front of a clear box with a living, beating, human heart inside it, and I want you to hear her say: “You’re standing before a miracle, and once you realize that, she’ll change your perspective. Okay, here’s what I do, I look at an item on my list, I look at heart-in-a-box, and if that surgery on my list isn’t half as cool as heart-in-a-box, then it is not worth my time. She lets you know what’s most important to you. That’s what heart-in-a-box does.”

Then I want you to get up and go and do anything that you consider to be at least half as cool as “heart in a box”, no matter what it is, as long as it excites you, and don’t give it another thought, just do it, be it, and feel your heart beating in tandem with the miracle of all that is.

Thump-thump, thump-thump, thump-thump...

P.S. I hope this issue excites you! <3


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