Heart art. It’s everywhere!
We all know, as this is February, that the heart symbol reigns supreme. Yes, Valentine’s Day is as always, and as everybody knows, on February 14th, the day when chocolate rules, often preceded by or followed by the offering of a lovely box (maybe on bended knee) containing an engagement ring. Certainly this is especially true if Christmas or New Year’s, the other two optional “special days,” didn’t quite seem to work out.
Recently, I spent time at one of the Daylesford Cottages in the Cotswolds in order to finish up a bit of work (so I said) and to relax. The Cottages’ owner, Lady Carole Bamford OBE, has utilised the heart as her company’s motif. It’s everywhere, from the front or back of a cashmere sweater, pebbly designs on the floors, porcelain jewellery holders, organic food packaging, stamped on chocolate squares, or the flowery heart-shaped wreath outside the entrance hall to the Haybarn Spa’s front doors. Love it would seem for Lady Carole and others is the single most important aspect of care. In her case, in her story, it all seems to have sprung from a strong need for uncontaminated, healthy food, and has grown from there.
Practically drowning in heart art at the cottage, I considered the ancient symbol, apparently first used in the Middle Ages. I’ve always loved the symmetrical shape of that suggestively symbolic heart, so easy to draw with either hand, and at once pure but with plenty of innuendo. I love what happens when you elongate it or even make it slightly asymmetrical, one scalloped edge bulging a bit higher, larger—beating?—than the other.
However, it is the word heart that has always, even as a child, taken my fancy. Right there in the middle of heart is the word ear; then, of course, ditch the he and we find art and scratch the t and we find hear. Hear, ear, art and heart, real life-saving words on a Scrabble board for those tight corners or when you have too many e’s and a’s to play.
A friend once traced for me the thin lines of the balanced halves of that universal symbol of love, and said, “Look, Marlene, two ears, two halves, and no mouth. Love takes a lot of listening; twice as much as talking.” So, yes, I have wondered, and maybe tried to implement that—listening—when not too full of myself, as the British like to say. Maybe listening is loving, and maybe that is why the word ear is nestled so deeply into the word heart. Two ears, no mouth.
And what of that word art? Well, if it is not too much of a stretch, I have found with art that listening is even more important for me; intuition is everything. Past outlining, getting all the major planks down, Plot Points I and II, the arc and the ending, it’s the intuition, the listening, if you will, that allows for the pump of blood through what might otherwise just lie dead on the page.
So back to engagement rings, hearts, flowers, and Valentine’s Day, when traditionally the acceptance of someone’s hand in marriage means to love, honour, and obey. Obey? Did you say obey? Well, consider this from Oxford Languages:
Note the Latin verb audire: to hear. Maybe in the last analysis a vow to obey is not so much a subservient one in a negative sense, but a positive call to listen, to actually hear; two halves of one heart, an invitation to heed, to harken, to love.
Wishing you a February full of listening, if actual love seems just a bridge too far.