The Heartbeat


I played the piano this morning with a new metronome. I seldom use one, but my piano coach advised it, recognizing my ragged sense of rhythm. As I played to the cadence of the timed ticks of the device, I thought about the rhythm of our lives. It’s no accident that the range of beats of the metronome for most music, from a low of 60 to a high of 130 parallels the lows and highs of the beat of our hearts. It is the rhythm to which we were born. Even before our birth, we detected the heartbeat of our mother. Baby kittens, when separated from their mother, lie sleepless until a ticking clock is placed near them. They then calm and snooze hearing the faux beat of their mother’s heart. For humans, music provides either that soothing slow beat of rest found in a lullaby, or the rapid beat in heavy metal. Though wildly different, the beat goes on.

The beat affects our inventions. Clocks use pendulums to divide the constant flow of time into ticks and tocks. Car engines harness small explosions in a rapid pulse of pistons.

But the universe does not move about in pulsing beats; the stars and planets move smoothly and constantly, no matter how we attempt to describe their passage in seconds, years and eons.

What if there is life on another planet whose species were just like us in every way, but one. Their hearts provide a steady flow of blood rather than in pulses. Would the sound of a flowing river calm their kittens? Would their music hum? Would their inventions work altogether differently?

Such is the stuff of science fiction but draws attention to the power of our hearts.

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Jackson Coppley

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