The history of heart padlocks according to Wiki, which happened to be my source of truth in this instance, dates back at least 100 years to a Serbian tale during WWI. A schoolmistress was engaged to marry a Serbian solider, but after he went to war in Greece and fell in love with another woman, she was left heart-broken and died soon afterwards. Out of fear of losing loved ones, the tradition of inscribing names and beloveds’ names onto locks, and affixing them to a bridge came into being.
The story is sad, and far from romantic as I had imagined. And what bothered me the most is that it was not out of joy in celebration of love, but rather out of fear of losing love, the heart locks were invented.
There may be other tales that supersede this one, and it is highly plausible that there are many variations on the conception of heart locks. Most people may be unaware of its origin but to simply feel it is a romantic gesture of love.
Perhaps I am reading into it too much, but I have started to wonder the intention or the significance, if there is any, to have our hearts locked. Is it a natural and beautifully pure desire to be together forever with the one you love? Or is it a love that is based upon conditions and limitations to secure the beloved to prevent heart breaks?
Similarly, I have difficulty conceiving the saying of ’till death do us apart’ when newly weds exchange their vows. As wildly romantic as it sounds, and as believable as a couple’s wish to cement a lifelong commitment to one another, nobody really knows what the future has in store for them. Besides running the risk of being perceived as socially irresponsible or unconventional, why don’t we instead say “I love you in this moment, and I wish to be with you for the long haul, but let’s see what the future beholds for us?”
Jiddu Krishnamurti, an Indian philosopher said, “Freedom and love go together. Love is not a reaction. If I love you because you love me, that is mere trade, a thing to be bought in the market; it is not love. To love is not to ask anything in return, not even to feel that you are giving something and it is only such love that can know freedom.”
The highest expression of love must be unconditional love. It is loving others without expectation, without conditions and without barriers. At the same time, it is also knowing and loving yourself unconditionally. It is not about holding onto someone who doesn’t love you back and giving to them unconditionally. It is about being able to set someone free and let them go whilst loving them (if you choose to) and wishing them well. It is about not settling for anything less than your worth, but also accepting and respecting the choices others make in their lives. It is about trusting that what will be will be, what is yours will be yours, and what is not will never be.
As I browsed through photographs of happy couples posing proudly next to their newly affixed heart locks, I could not help but to also feel happy for them. Perhaps to them, putting a heart lock together is a way to show how much that love is mutually shared and treasured. It is a way to make each other happy, in that moment, in the best way that they know how.
I have been thinking and re-thinking, but there isn’t a generic answer as to why we adopted these heart padlocks. Regardless of whether you decide to put a heart lock on it, or not – it is about what love is to you, and how you feel propelled to uniquely articulate it. It comes back to what your heart wishes to genuinely express as love.