In his essay “Joyas Voladores,” Brian Doyle initially describes how the swiftly beating, miniature-sized heart of the hummingbird has a direct and substantial effect on the longevity and quality of life of the small, quick flying fowl. The cost of flight is high. They are afflicted by “more heart attacks, and aneurysms, and ruptures” in their life more so “than any other living creature” (Doyle). Yet, they endure until their last breath, despite the pain it causes them. Every single living being on this planet has about a “two billion heartbeats to spend in a lifetime.” Comparing the two short years the hummingbird rapidly burns through against the slow, lax lifestyle of the two-hundred-year-old tortoise, he suggests it’s up human kind how to spend those numbered heartbeats: speedily, like the hummingbird, or unhurried as the tortoise.
As the essay develops, he tells the reader that the world’s largest heart can be found in the thousands of mysterious blue whales swimming in the dark depths of the earth’s oceans. Little is known of the life of the blue whale, except typically “animals with the biggest of hearts…generally travel in pairs,” and their songs can be heard under the dark, rippling waves for great distances. Almost every living creature in creation has something in them that makes them tick, that moves them. In between those heartbeats, life itself. For humans, moments filled with love, jealousy, vulnerability, and hope. Walls built up, only to be torn back down.
The heart may be what helps move the body, but it’s how the life is spent that makes it truly worth living.