The heart is a very tough muscle. It has to be. It works very hard for you. It has to keep you going regardless of your preference or intention.
Tenderizing is the process of breaking down collagens in meat (muscle) to make it more tender.
In cooking, there are three common ways in which muscle is tenderized: Mechanical - you can pound it, Temperature - you can cook it, and Chemical - you can add enzymes that will break it down.
In life, there are any number of ways in which to tenderize the heart. Babies, cute little fuzzy creatures, simple acts of kindness, Hallmark cards, certain particularly manipulative TV commercials, crushes and first kisses, unexpected displays of vulnerability, nostalgia, alcohol. Mind you, not all of them are universally or consistently effective.
Yesterday, I was grappling with a song and the Lionel Richie/Diana Ross duet, "Endless Love" came to mind. Nothing will wreck a songwriting session faster than a quick meditation on that tune. In my youth, I expended a lot of energy hating that song. Passionately, hating that song. And in my advanced years, I feel pang in my chest as they sing, well, pretty much every single word.
"'Cause nooooo one can denyyyyyy, this love I have insiiiiiide. And I'll giiiiiive it all to yooooouuuuuu, my love (my love, my love)." -Lionel Richie
And I have to wonder, what the hell happened? Is it the Lionel, finally breaking down the walls of my heart? Have the trials and tribs leading to these middle ages tenderized my heart to the point where I am receptive to every silly and heartfelt declaration of the Lionel? Is it the early flush and then slow burn of interest radiating from making the acquaintance of my new friend, the LYM? Has someone been slipping papaya or pineapple enzyme extracts into my meals?
It might be all of the above. If this is what it means to mellow with age, in the words of CK,
"I don't like it."
Or maybe it's just acid reflux.
I take comfort in the fact that the swell of emotion brought on by "Endless Love," led to a meditation on tenderizing meat. I can only hope that this is a phase and that it will pass. That or I am going to blast Lionel Richie songs whenever I cook a steak.