Taken from Hackvan

One day a young man was standing in the middle of the town proclaiming that he
had the most beautiful heart in the whole valley. A large crowd gathered and
they all admired his heart for it was perfect. There was not a mark or a flaw
in it. Yes, they all agreed it truly was the most beautiful heart they had ever
seen. The young man was very proud and boasted more loudly about his beautiful
heart.

Suddenly, an old man appeared at the front of the crowd and said “Why your
heart is not nearly as beautiful as mine.” The crowd and the young man looked
at the old man’s heart. It was beating strongly, but full of scars, it had
places where pieces had been removed and other pieces put in, but they didn’t
fit quite right and there were several jagged edges. In fact, in some places
there were deep gouges where whole pieces were missing. The people stared —
how can he say his heart is more beautiful, they thought?

The young man looked at the old man’s heart and saw its state and laughed.
“You must be joking,” he said. “Compare your heart with mine, mine is perfect
and yours is a mess of scars and tears.”

“Yes,” said the old man, “yours is perfect looking but I would never trade with
you. You see, every scar represents a person to whom I have given my love – I
tear out a piece of my heart and give it to them, and often they give me a
piece of their heart which fits into the empty place in my heart, but because
the pieces aren’t exact, I have some rough edges, which I cherish, because they
remind me of the love we shared. Sometimes I have given pieces of my heart
away, and the other person hasn’t returned a piece of his heart to me. These
are the empty gouges — giving love is taking a chance

Although these gouges are
painful, they stay open, reminding me of the love I have for these people too,
and I hope someday they may return and fill thespace I have waiting. So now do
you see what true beauty is?”

The young man stood silently with tears running down his cheeks. He walked up
to the old man, reached into his perfect young and beautiful heart, and ripped
a piece out. He offered it to the old man with trembling hands. The old man
took his offering, placed it in his heart and then took a piece from his old
scarred heart and placed it in the wound in the young man’s heart. It fit, but
not perfectly, as there were some jagged edges. The young man looked at his
heart, not perfect anymore but more beautiful than ever, since love from the
old man’s heart flowed into his. They embraced and walked away side by side.

How sad it must be to go through life with a whole heart.