Brain Food #568

The enduring nature of the heart

Thoughts of the day

Good morning, and happy Friday.

The human heart has been ubiquitously used as the symbol of love for centuries. The Greeks were amongst the first to identify the heart as the part of the human body that was associated with love, followed - and perhaps made more famous - by the Ancient Romans and their symbol of Cupid, the god of desire, who is often depicted shooting arrows at the hearts of lovers.

Sappho was one of the earliest known poets to reference the heart in relation to love. In Fragment 31, she writes:

That man seems to me to be equal to the gods
who is sitting opposite you
and hears you nearby
speaking sweetly

and laughing delightfully, which indeed
makes my heart flutter in my breast;
for when I look at you even for a short time,
it is no longer possible for me to speak…

Like many others after her, Sappho took her heartache and made it eternal. As she wrote separately, “I tell you/ someone will remember us/ in the future.”

And although the mind and the concept of mindfulness have been given a more prominent part in modern life, listening to one’s heart, weighing our feelings and emotions alongside reason and logic, should also be common practice.

Whether you are a romantic or not, the notion of love should be explored and celebrated throughout the year - not just with others, and certainly not just on specific days with balloons and roses.


This modern art installation by Felix Gonzalez-Torres, simply named Untitled, features two clocks placed next to each other, initially set to the same time, but slowly falling out of sequence. Eventually, they are reset, and they start ticking in sync, until once again they fall out of it. A reminder that love is not a permanent state of perfection and alignment - fluctuating between moments of perfect communication, and moments in which we may feel entirely alone - but, like time itself, it endures.


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