Heartbreak is something we feel happens only when things have gone wrong: an unrequited love, a shattered dream, a child lost before their time. Heartbreak is to be avoided; something to guard against, a chasm to watch for and then walk carefully around; the hope is to live without it and to have as little as possible, but all evidence is to the contrary of these child-like hopes; heartbreak is as inescapable and in- evitable as breathing, a part and parcel of every path, asking for its due in every sincere course an individual takes. It may be that there is no real life without the raw revelation of heartbreak; no single path we can take within a life that will allow us to escape without having that imaginative organ we call the heart broken by what it holds and then has to let go.
In a sobering physical sense, every heart does eventually break, as the precipitating reason for death or because the rest of the body has given up before it, but hearts also break in an imaginative and psycho-logical sense: there is almost no path a human being can follow that does not lead to heartbreak. A marriage, a committed vow to another – even the most settled, loving relationship will break our hearts at one time another; parenthood, no matter the sincerity of our love for a child, will always break the mold of our motherly or fatherly hopes; a good work, if taken seriously, will often take everything we have and still leave us wanting; finally even the most self compassionate, self examination should, if we are sincere, lead eventually to existential disappointment.
Realizing its inescapable nature, we can see heartbreak not as the end of the road or the cessation of hope but as the close embrace of the essence of what we have wanted or are about to lose. It is the hidden DNA of our relationship with life, outlining outer forms by the intimate physical experience generated by its absence; it can ground us truly in whatever grief we are experiencing, set us to planting a seed with what we have left or appreciate what we have even as we stand in its ruins. If heartbreak is inevitable and inescapable, it asks us to look for it, to see it as our constant and instructive companion, and perhaps, in the depth of its impact as well as in its hindsight, see it as its own reward. Heartbreak asks us not to look for an alternative path, because there is no alternative path. It is an introduction to what we love and have loved, an inescapable question, something and someone that has been with us all along, asking us to be ready for the ultimate letting go.’