Once upon a time day a king of a far off kindom in a far off planet announced that he would make a heart contest and the man with the most beautiful heart would marry his only daughter. He said it was only fair that the young princess would marry the man with the most beautiful heart, as she herself had the most perfect heart as well. You see, one's heart was visible through their chests on that planet.
A large crowd gathered in the palace on the appointed day, most of them rich and wealthy but also a lot handsome and brave, to show off their beautiful hearts.
A particular young and handsome prince stood in the middle of the ball room, proclaiming he has the best heart in the entire planet.
Everyone was staring at him 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?”
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 the space I have waiting. So now do you see what true beauty is?”
Then the young princess stood up from her throne. She walked past the handsome prince and up to the old man, reached into her perfect, young and beautiful heart, and ripped a piece out. She offered it to the old man with trembling hands. The old man took her 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 girl’s heart. It fit, but not perfectly, as there were some jagged edges.
The princess looked at her heart, not perfect anymore but more beautiful than ever, since love from the old man’s heart flowed into hers.
They embraced and walked away side by side.