Book: The Art of Hearing Heartbeats

I picked up this book from the shelf because I fell in love with the title, and the cover. As I read the blurb on the inside jacket, my heart fluttered. The book tells a story of Julia Win’s journey to unravel the mystery of his father’s past. Julia’s father, Tin Win, disappeared without a trace one morning–leaving his family unsettled and confused. After finding a love letter written by her father to a Burmese woman called Mi Mi in Kalaw, Myanmar, Julia found herself leaving her life in New York behind to go to this small mountain village–without really knowing what she would actually find there.

I know it’s only January 2014. But as I finished reading the book a few days ago, I am convinced that this is going to be my favorite book in 2014–as well as one of my all-time favorites. I love the poetic dialogues and the rhythm of the sentences; I care too much about the characters, and I adore the unexpected turn of events as the story unfolds. But of course, like most of my all-time favorites, the book contains loads of wonderful quotes that seems to speak to me about the right matter at the right time.

As I read along, I could not resist myself to share some lovely quotes from the book on Facebook and Twitter and Path; but I still felt the urge to share much more–and so I decided to share all of my favorite quotes on this blog instead. If you don’t run to the bookstore and grab this book immediately after this, I hope the quotes will still speak to your heart the way they speak to mine.

THE ART OF HEARING HEARTBEATS
Jan-Philipp Sendker
325 pages

Do you believe in love? Of course I am not referring to those outbursts of passion that drive us to do so and say things we will later regret, that delude us into thinking we cannot live without a certain person, that set us quivering with anxiety at the mere possibility we might ever lose that person–a feeling that impoverishes rather than enriches us because we long to possess what we cannot, to hold on to what we cannot. No, I speak of love that brings sight to the blind. Of a love stronger than fear. I speak of a love that breathes meaning into life, that defies the natural laws of deterioration, that causes us to flourish, that knows no bounds. I speak of the triumph of the human spirit over selfishness and death. (p.6)

How flat and empty the most beautiful words can sound. How dull and dreary life must be for those who need words, who need to touch, see, or hear one another in order to be close. Who need to prove their love, or even just to confirm it in order to be sure of it. (p.29)

How can anyone truthfully claim to love someone when they’re not prepared to share everything with that person, including their past? (p.33)

A confession, a disclosure, is worthless when it comes at the wrong moment. If it’s too early, it overwhelms us. We’re not ready for it and can’t yet appreciate it. If it’s too late, the opportunity is lost. The mistrust and the disappointment are already too great; the door is already closed. In either case, the very thing that ought to foster intimacy just creates distance. (p.34)

There are wounds time does not heal, though it can reduce them to manageable size. (p.77)

There is no power that can release a person from pain or from the sadness one might feel–unless it be that person himself. Life is a gift full of riddles in which suffering and happiness are inextricably intertwined. Any attempt to have one without the other was simply bound to fail. (p.109)

A person’s greatest treasure is the wisdom in his own heart. (p.115)

The true essence of things is invisible to the eyes. Our sensory organs love to lead us astray, and eyes are the most deceptive of all. We rely too heavily upon them. We believe that we see the world around us, and yet it is only the surface that we perceive. We must learn to divine the true nature of things, their substance, and the eyes are rather a hindrance than a help in that regard. They distract us. We love to be dazzled. A person who relies too heavily on his eyes neglects his other senses–and I mean more than his hearing or sense of smell. I’m talking about the organ within us for which we have no name. Let us call it the compass of the heart. (p.123)

Ambition and fear have something in common: neither knows any limits. (p.125)

There is nothing, for good or for evil, of which a person is incapable. It would be much worse to expect good from other people, only to be disappointed when they didn’t measure up to our high expectations. (p.156)

A time of waiting offered moments, minutes, sometimes even hours of peace, of rest. Each and every thing required a certain amount of time. (p.165)

Was it really possible for a person to shorten the time it took to get from one place or person to another? How could anyone think so? (p. 166)

You don’t need to be afraid. You can’t lose me. I am a part of you, just as you’re a part of me. (p. 197)

“I couldn’t bear to be without you.”
“I’ve been here the whole time.”
“I wanted to feel you. And I was sad.”
“Why?”
“Because you were so far away, because I couldn’t touch you. Every hour we spend apart saddens me. Every place I go without you. Every step you take without me. Every night that we don’t fall asleep in each other’s arms and every morning that we don’t wake up side by side.” (p. 207)

A person maybe wasn’t alone after all. The smallest human unit was two rather than one. (p. 224)

Love has so many different faces that our imagination is not prepared to see them all. We see only what we already know. We project our own capacities–for good as well as evil–onto the other person. Then we acknowledge as love primarily those things that correspond to our own image thereof. We wish to be loved as we ourselves would love. Any other way makes us uncomfortable. We respond with doubt and suspicion. We misinterpret the signs. We do not understand the language. We accuse. We assert that the other person does not love us. But perhaps he merely loves us in some idiosyncratic way that we fail to recognize. (p. 244)

I am not without you, that you are with me from the moment I wake until the moment I fall asleep, that it’s you I feel when the wind caresses me, that it’s your voice I hear in the silence, you whom I see when I close my eyes, you who makes me laugh and sing when I know no one else is around. How can I explain to them that what you mean to me, what you give me, does not depend on where you are in the world? That one need not feel the other’s hand in order to be in touch? (p. 277)

It’s not the size of one’s nose, the color of one’s skin, the shape of one’s lips or eyes that make one beautiful or ugly. It’s love. Love makes us beautiful. Do you know a single person who loves and is loved, who is loved unconditionally and who, at the same time, is ugly? There’s no need to ponder the question. There is no such person. (p. 290)

At the end of the day, when I closed the book, I said to myself: I would like to love someone the way Mi Mi loves Tin Win and to be loved by someone the way Tin Win loves Mi Mi. May I be blessed with such a big heart to love someone that way: sincere, simple, and faithful–and find someone to share it with one day :)


17 Comments on “Book: The Art of Hearing Heartbeats”

  1. aw.. I am not going to read all the post, but am gonna buy the book. :)

  2. Kaaak, I’m amazed that you always find cute book like this. It’s as cute as you. Thanks for the reference, I can’t wait to read it! :)

  3. supernopha says:

    Satu lagi buku referensi dari Mbak Hanny yang kudu dibaca nih. hiihihi

  4. Eva says:

    Bahasanya indah dan efisien. Pinjem! :)

  5. Youran Zhu says:

    whoaaa. di Periplus ada gak ya ._.
    love the cover and the title :)

  6. elva says:

    jadi pengen beli bukunya..meskipun sptnya rada lama buat loadingnya heheh..terima kasih udah sharing quotes-nya :)

  7. akuh says:

    how would one do it.

    to love someone with no bounds. the invisible pane of time and distance. to be confined in sincerity and selflessness when the heart is just like any other organ that deteriorates. with pain and fear.

    and how poetic can a soul be.
    when the weight of love too can crush a simple heart such as this.

    at times maybe.
    i think it was them fiction
    the idealistic ones that have wronged me.

  8. ploxo303 says:

    The book must be lovely, not really my type of book but I like the way you describe it as your all time favourite

  9. CurlyLAF says:

    Reblogged this on Curly Bookworm and commented:
    As a bookworm and a witty wordsmith wannabe, I would hunt this picturesque piece of art! Thanks for sharing!
    Btw, I wanna learn the art of hearing heartbeats. :)


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