Ruminations on Love

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I’ve always been fascinated with the way our brains work and with human interaction. I find love in particular to be something difficult to understand. What is it, how does it work, where does it originate, and why does it occur at all? How can it be that as intelligent human beings, this is the one emotion that we are seemingly unable to control?

The dictionary definition of love is, ‘A feeling of strong or constant affection for a person’, which in itself is contradictory at best. The reason I say this is because the dictionary definition of affection is, ‘a gentle feeling of fondness or liking’. I’m fond of a big fluffy towel. I like ice cream. I have gentle feelings about a lot of things. I don’t equate any of those things to love.  I also take issue with the ‘strong or constant’ aspect of the definition. Shouldn’t love be strong and constant? Shouldn’t it be passionate, torrid, and sultry? My own personal definition would have to be, that certain something that consumes your thoughts, your feelings, your fears and desires. That thing that makes you want to rise to any occasion. That uncontrollable feeling that permeates right into your very being defying logic.

While I love science and all that it has brought to mankind I don’t believe science has solved this question either. There have been many a study and much research on the subject of love. Experiments have been conducted and data collected and crunched. Their conclusions are that love is a biological set of responses resulting in the rise of cortisol levels and the opening of dopamine pathways, etc.. The question for me is what causes those pathways to open and levels to rise? We are not attracted to every single person we meet. Think of how many people you interact with on a daily basis and there is no romantic thoughts or attraction. They are simply another person. Yet out of all the people on the planet and without intention you can meet someone and as you look in to their eyes, or when they utter their first words you are smitten. Your heart skips a beat and your pulse races. You’re intrigued and then those biological responses take over. But what is it that initiates those feelings? Why that particular person out of so many others? Of course we can assume physical attraction plays a part. However I think I’d classify that under lust more than love.

While it will take someone far more intelligent than I am to solve the riddle of how love occurs there are a few things I can say with absolute certainty. If you are lucky enough to find love or it finds you, cherish it. Nurture and grow it. Relish and revel in it. Let that special person know daily that they have given you a gift by including you in their life. Give that person the respect and honor they deserve.

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