I wrote this story when I was in my mid 20s. Since then it’s sat in a box at my parents’ house untouched and forgotten. Now that Mum and Dad have both passed away I’ve been going through a lot of forgotten boxes. There have been plenty of memories and more than a few surprises. I’ve learned some things about my parents that I never knew before and remembered some things that I’d long forgotten. Perhaps the biggest surprises though have come from opening boxes of my own stuff. It’s been an odd journey, opening these time capsules. I have to confess that I’ve tweaked this story a bit: the years since it was written have had to have their say. It used to be darker, but that’s behind me now and I happy to keep moving forward.
The Man With a Heart Made of Ribbons
It is a sad thing to relate, the story of the man with a heart made of ribbons. The sorrow is, at first, hard to understand and you may struggle to see it as he passes you by. The image you have might be beautiful, for it is easy to picture the many brightly coloured ribbons, all lengths and widths, woven into a vibrant, beating heart.
The tragedy begins when you see that rather than being wound into a beautiful heart, all of the ribbons blow and dance separately in the wind, each one offering it own promise, pulling in its own direction. This is his pain. It comes when the wind blows.
How did such a thing as this come to pass? That is a story that begins long ago. When the man was a boy his life seemed simple. He walked through the dream world of his childhood, marvelling at all that was around him, accepting what he saw and believing that this was how it should be. At that time the ribbons of his heart were free and their pull was the pull of life. But as he grew older, life should have woven the ribbons into a heart that beat and pulsed with one song. Sadly for him, this was not to be. The boy had felt pain that should never have been, he had stored this up in his heart and with so many tears one song could never be sung.
But what, you may ask, is so terrible about such a free and colourful, childlike heart? If it beats, if it gives life, where is the sadness?
For the man, to have a heart that changes direction so often, so suddenly, that pulls in so many directions at once, is more than sorrow. How can he find true love, how can he feel passion for anyone or anything? He feels, but never strongly, he loves but it is soon lost, he calls the desires of his body love, he calls them passion.
To feel he tries to put his faith in one thread, but one ribbon is never strong enough to carry so much hope. It will flap and dance with the promise of his dreams for a little while, but soon it will break. Ribbon by ribbon he loses his way. Ribbon by ribbon his heart grows smaller.
His pain is seemingly eternal, for the work of mending a heart made of ribbons is the work of a lifetime. Still, it is work which must be done, work from which there is no escape.
Tragedy will pursue him relentlessly. He must work hard every day to heal himself and he must be careful. The most dangerous thing about tragedy, as with pain, is that one can learn to enjoy it and then hope becomes nothing but a desperate plea in a far away darkness. To weave those ribbons into one strong heart is a long and difficult road, but it is a test he must accept and accept with courage.
Who is the tester who designs such tests? I do not know. Maybe it is simply best attributed to life? But, it defines who we are and what we are worth and there is no doubt that it makes us stronger.