Brian Doyle’s work, Joyas Voladoras, is about humming birds, a whale, worms, and a cat dragging itself into the forest to die. He uses a lot of metaphors and anthropomorphism in his style to grab your attention. By describing the life we live and how we love, Doyle compares and contrasts differences and similarities between the Hummingbird, Tortoise, Blue whale, small insects and humans. He talks about love and emotion, insecurities and loneliness, and childhood memories. Doyle emphasizes that life is precious and that there are different ways to live your life. In the beginning of the story Doyle reveals the meaning of “Joyas Voladoras”, meaning “Flying Jewels”. He brings to the reader, in vivid detail, the Hummingbird. With each following description, the reader is fed an informative education about this fascinating bird. Doyle describes the humming birds heart by saying that the humming bird has a, “thunderous wild heart the size of an infants fingernail” (147).
He gradually elongates his ideas, simply giving the reader a moment to reflect before elucidating the humming bird’s many talents. He says that humming birds can fly “backwards [or] fly more than five hundred miles without pausing to rest.” (147) “But when they rest they come close to death.” (147) Doyle is grabbing the reader and explaining how fragile life is. You could live every day not knowing that today could be your last. Just like the Hummingbird with, “their hearts slugging nearly to a halt, barely beating.”(147) Doyle cites the numerous variations of Hummingbirds to our own beating hearts. He says that when a humming bird dies “each mad heart silent, a brilliant music stilled.”(147) Just as that of our own heart. Joyas Voladoras may seem as if it has no real significance. Yet, given Doyle’s backstory, I came to understand that his son was born with only three out four chambers in his heart.
Through this experience, Doyle is writing about how precious life really is. And, by conveying this experience he had with his son, through the hummingbird as a metaphor, it allows us to reflect on our own lives. Doyle suggests that hummingbirds live their lives quickly. He says we each have “approximately two billion heartbeats to spend in a lifetime” (148). You can live your life many ways. You can live you life like that of a tortoise, “slowly [and] live to be two hundred years old.” (148) Or, you can life your life like that of a hummingbird, in the fast lane and live for only two years. Same two billion heartbeats in a lifetime, yet two different pathways of life. “As big as a room. It is a room, with four chambers. A child could walk around in.”(148) Doyle introduces the blue whale, the biggest heart in the world. I believe that in this metaphor, Doyle wants you to visualize the vast difference in size between the humming birds heart, the size of a pencil eraser and the blue whale’s heart so large a child could walk around in it. A heart is a heart. No matter what animal, it is what keeps us all alive.
However, it’s through our different life styles, that we chose the longevity of our own life. “There are perhaps ten thousand blue whales in the world, living in every ocean on earth, and of the largest mammal who ever lived we know nearly nothing. But we know the animals with the largest hearts in the world generally travel in pairs.” (148) They know how to live life and love. By living and loving together as a pair they take care of each other every day. Something we all want in life, to love and be loved. “So much held in a heart in a lifetime. So much held in a heart in a day, an hour, a moment.” (148) Here Doyle is saying how important life is. He compares that to a house in which we all live alone. “We are utterly open with no one.”(148) We choose who comes into our heart, but are always still living alone. We live like this because we are afraid to of a “constantly harrowed heart”. (148) As we age our hearts become “bruised and scarred, scorned and torn, repaired by time and will.” (148)
As we live our lives we love. We get hurt through all of life’s heartbreaks, but with time we become whole and “repaired” but we continue to remain fragile. You can continue to let people in your heart, but each person you let in your heart can be loved or be hurt. You can make “your heart as stout and tight and hard and cold and impregnable as you possibly can and down it comes in an instant.”(148) He brings you in with tantric imagery we can all relate too, as that of “a child’s apple breath. The word’s I have something to tell you, a cat with a broken spine dragging himself into the woods to die… [or] the memory of your father’s voice early in the morning making pancakes for his children.” (148-149) I personally have an emotional connection with this story. My sister was born with a severe heart condition. Just like Doyle’s son.
But instead of three chambers, she has only two. Having seven open-heart surgeries since infancy and Twenty-Six years of worry and heartache, I can say it’s definitely been a long journey for my sister. To live everyday not knowing what to expect has really enlightened me, and my family. It’s taught me to live everyday graciously and cherish those around you, because you never know what the next minute will bring. Doyle’s work is a beautiful examination of the human heart. He uses an infinite array of metaphors of the heart, explaining the lost passages of life and love. Seeming so insignificant, these memories bring back emotions from past experiences. Through his work he encourages us to see that life is precious and that there are different ways to live your life In general, live every moment of your life. Joyas Voladoras.. “Flying jewel.”