You Can’t Be Serious - ‘The good life…’
You Can’t Be Serious – ‘The good life…’

It is many a poor unfortunate ‘scrut’ I have known who has fallen head over heels in love. Beautiful young maidens have also regularly succumbed to the head-over-heels-in-love affliction.

But none of these afflicted beings will ever profess to the object of their affections that they love the other with all of their head or all of their heels: They each express love for the other with ‘all of their heart!’ That it is the brain and not the heart that regulates this said same love, doesn’t even get a mention.

The heart is the symbol of love – even though the popular beautifully shaped symbol bears scant resemblance to our real heart. ‘I love New York’ has the heart as its trademark logo – even though the city is known as ‘The Big Apple.’

It isn’t only love that the heart symbolises. It is also drawn down as the badge of courage. ‘He has the heart of a lion’, is the greatest tribute that can be paid to a warrior in any manner of battle. ‘The team showed great heart in the second half’, you will hear proclaimed by many a GAA team manager between now and the end of July. Nobel winner, John Nash, said that “the only thing greater than the power of the mind is the courage of the heart!”

If a person is said to have a ‘big heart’, it means that they are kind and generous. This is just another example of how we feel about our most vital organ; and certainly, our most vital organ it is.

The work rate of the heart is phenomenal. This ten-ounce workhorse works 24/7 pumping blood – the red gold that is the source of life, through about 60,000 miles of blood vessels. That is almost unbelievable – as is the fact that your heart beats around 35 Million times every year.

Because the heart is our most vital organ, it is little wonder that more people die from heart failure than any other cause. And yet, there are none of the other organs that we can do as much for by way of ‘servicing.’ We need to help the heart stay strong and healthy through keeping an eye on what we eat and doing some exercise – not too strenuous is best for most of us.

Mind you, there probably isn’t a real right way to exercise. One theory is that because the heart is a muscle, the harder you work it, the stronger it gets and the longer it lasts. The counter argument is that the heart, like the moving part of any machine, only has so many ‘beats’ in it and you can either use them up fast, or spread them out!

I don’t know; but what I do know is that after I took up playing squash at the age of 37, a leading British heart specialist wrote that, “Nobody over 35 should play squash – even if they have been playing it all their lives.” I continued playing competitively for a further 20 years and I think that exercise has served me well.

Modern medicine and medical advances are keeping more people alive for longer – and not least those with heart problems. Being aware of family history and other preventative steps, prove the old adage that ‘prevention is better than cure.’ And speaking of ‘steps’, there is nothing better than a daily walk to help keep the old ticker ticking over.

A friend of mine died a few week ago – and he was no ordinary man. Chris received the blessing of enjoying a generation with his family that he would never have known in any other generation. You see, his heart gave up thirty-odd years ago. Chris received a heart transplant, courtesy of the generosity of the donor’s family; thus enabling him to live a full and happy life for another 32 years. Chris, Maureen and their family valued every day of those 32 years – and therin lies a lesson for all of us …

Those of us who live in County Westmeath are privileged to be living at the heart of Ireland. The Hill of Uisneach has roots going back beyond recorded history. It is the centre of Ireland and truly the heart of the country. Hundreds of years before Tara was ever heard of, the rulers of the five ancient provinces met here to pass laws and participate in pre-Celtic rituals. There is a huge boulder at the summit, known as ‘Aill na Mireann’. This stone symbolises the entire island and beneath it is said to be the resting place of Eriu, the goddess of Ireland.

David and Angela Clarke and a small hard-working committee, have put a lot of effort into promoting the heart of Ireland over the past few years. More should be done. If an attraction like this was in any other county, there would be a queue of visitors stretching back as far as Lucan. ‘Cross my heart …’

Don’t Forget

The heart is happiest when it beats for others.

Bernie Comaskey Books