Monday, September 27, 2010

Magic is part of what stirs my heart to movement. It seems that in order for me to believe, there has to be some element of the unknown and secret mystery, which seems counterintuitive but it's true. I wasn't drawn to what I saw as the dryness of Christianity until I recognized magic in the acts of Jesus Christ, the unexplained mystery of his acts of healing and transformation, as example. It feels like some kind of connection to a world behind the veil, and the mystery keeps me interested over the long term.
I think element of magic to them helps me feel deeper, and for the past some years I have let the magic of Jesus be enough for me. My heart was not full before, and I questioned that, to some degree, in terms of what it meant about me. Was it possible that I had forgotten that the heart is a muscle, which needs to be worked in order to get stronger? Did its muscles atrophy through lack of use?
From the first outset of my current situation, a conversation with a psychic in the historic old shop opened up the riddle of mystery. The words she chose, even more than her predictions, were meaningful and significant in some personal way that perplexed me in their coincidence. Those little kizmet moments, and jokes falling into place that came thereafter, and unusual physical reactions, emotional leapings, added to the feeling of perhaps what some call chemistry, or spark, but what I call magic.
Sometimes I want to be a skeptic, and then something else happens. A night walk around a chapel, a flash in the grass, a two harmonica cache; a walk in the woods, a shimmer of light, two matching stones lying side by side in the place no stones are, these things make me wonder sometimes about the meaning of the message.
In my wondering, I think about a time before, a woman I went to see whom I was told could see your future in the remains of your tea. She came highly recommended,but when I sat down by her, what she said was deceptively simple. "You lost something," she said, "that was very important to you." In that moment, I felt like I HAD, and that she was the only one that recognized that, but I had no idea what it might be. I felt the sensation of loss, but couldn't envision it in my head. It may just be that I am emotionally gullible, but I thought about that for a long time after, wondering what it was I think I had lost. Eventually, I came to believe that it was belief in love. Somewhere along the way, I stopped thinking of this notion of romantic love as something that was obtainable and real. I started thinking the stunting was the only way we know, reluctantly and half heartedly reaching for The Settle.
Over repeated exposure to the object of magic, though, I felt my heart opening, like a vault. I had wondered if my heart was capable of loving graciously because my actions in the past did not seem to match it. I know now that it was because it was kept inside a cage of resentment, and that situation did not stop me from being a person who was capable of loving to the utmost capacity. It was stunted due to the inability of the object to return the love in the amount and intensity that it could be given. Love needs love back to grow, and the way mine grows now is like the sun rising in the sky, that at midday might be so bright that all the world could see it clearly but might be unable to look at directly.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Hello world. It's been a while. I've been lost for a little while down a rabbit hole, and am just coming back up to take a look around. Spam bots seem to have taken over the comments section, and my blogging fever is running a different direction these days. I'm hoping soon I will be able to share that direction with my friends that have stopped by here.
Meanwhile, back here in the wild yonder of my own mind, I've been meandering down some road for months now, chasing elusive answers to age old questions. I've been questioning the nature of love. When I say nature, I mean exactly that, in some ways - the way Mother Nature designed us to fall in love, and why we choose who we do, and why love sometimes stays and why it sometimes goes. I've been looking to various places, but mainly the realm of biology, and evolution, and its effects on relationships between men and women.
I don't know if I have all the answers yet, or even if I know what the questions are. I do know a bit more than I did before, though, and I am curious to see if I can put it into some form that makes some kind of sense, and teaches us what we need to know to have some kind of hope in the futility of it all.
Let's start by considering the prairie voles. After all, that's where the scientists who study these sorts of things started. Not many animal species have monogamy down pat, but of the ones that do, the prairie voles are the ones that do it best. There are many species of voles, which is a small rodent, but Microtus ochrogaster, commonly referred to as prairie voles, are the only ones who are monogamous. When researchers took a closer look at these animals, they found some interesting hormonal relationships that encourage long lasting pair bonds.
What we have learned from the prairie voles so far strengthens the hypothesis that love is hard wired in our DNA as a response to a combination of hormonal interplays. When two opposite sex prairie voles meet, the interplay in the smelling of each other's pheromones may result in an increase of norepinephrine, which results in the mania and sleeplessness of early attraction. After spending some time together, the voles become habituated to each other, which causes a decrease in cortisol levels in the pair, the hormone of "stress". They are calmed by each's others presence. Following this, they have sex for 24 hours. In these rodents, like as in humans, this brings about a release of oxytocin and vasopressin, the hormones of love and commitment. The two are now mated for life, and help each other raise the young.
The prairie vole model demonstrates the importance of oxytocin in developing long term pair bonding, but what does it mean? The roots of monogamous human relationships have some similiarities to the hormone changes in the voles. The initial surges of a love relationship between two people follow some of the same hormonal pathways. The beginning stages are dictated by surges of norepinephrine, then the latter stages of commitment and long term relationships are fueled by oxytocin and vasopressin levels.
Studies of humans who had fallen in love showed that during the initial phases of pair bonding, the woman's testosterone levels increase and the man's decreases. In the woman, this change drives the woman to initiate sex more, and the man to intitiate more cuddling type behaviors. Those actions, in turn, stimulate the levels of oxytocin in the other to increase, causing more satisfaction or affection; in turn, deepening the bond.
In a similar monkey study, they found that the couples with high oxytocin levels would act in ways to comfort each other after a relationship stressor, such as the introduction of another female's scent. The pairs would seem to have an understanding of what the other one needed to raise the oxytocin levels back up to the optimum level.
So this is how Mother Nature designed this thing, this thing called love, to promote relationships steady enough to raise the offspring until the point at which it can take care of itself. In humans, the hormonal cascade seems to run in four year cycles, which is consistent with what evolutionary biologists belief was initially the time period that it would take for sucessful mating to occur and then the need for parental investment from the father. Early in the formation of a bond with another person, a hormone called DHEA (for short) increases, and stays high for about four years before it starts to wear off. Four years is also the time that most couples report a "satisfaction dip" in their relationships. My current theory is that if people had some understanding on what that feeling is, that dip in hormones, then they might be more likely to stay in the relationship when that dip occurs.
Over the past months, I have been spending an increasing amount of time trying to understand all this information, and more. My interest in it was of two fold, one with trying to understand why divorce happens, why love doesn't work, and the other part trying to understand what was happening to me, as I was falling in love again, and not wanting to repeat the mistakes of the past, or humanity as a whole. I'm trying to understand what draws us to one person rather than another, what is making me feel like I have never felt this way before, and how to keep those feeligns over time, as oposed to wasting energy going from one relationship to the next. I have more in my mind about evolutionary biology, and how we can use this knowledge of hormones to add to and deepen our relationships over time, so expect further entries on this subject.