On Our Capacity to Love
We've been given an incredible capacity to love.
I've heard recently that this is an evolutionary tactic. That we developed love, in theory, as a survival instinct. That without it, we could easily be abandoned by our mothers or our tribeman. Love an affection was our way of keeping the species alive.
The problem I have with this theory is that it serves only to explain why we even want to be close to each other. But it doesn't explain taste. There is no talk of preference or the power of choice. Indeed, we have the uncanny ability to choose to love - even when love is not recipricated. It makes no mention of tolerance or patience.
There is no room for rejection.
Is there a theory for that?
Love is complicated. We all know this much. It looks different to many people and with many perspectives. It is small and big at the same time. It suffers from books trying to define what some have been able to do with a single word. In the end, no one can truly put a theory on why we do it that makes complete sense, and that would stick even when the next theory comes along. Trying to examine love is more of a folly than trying to find love itself.
If it is even capable of finding - that is - unless you believe that love finds you.
Yet I find it fascinating that Love even exists within our being. That along with our bones and genes and DNA we were also built with the capacity to love. Not only that, but a unique drive - passion - or sense of purpose that no one else has. Love, like those things, can be experienced by each human being as differently as we believe thumbprints are to be one-of-a-kind.
Within you is the ability to look at another human being, become fascinated when they speak, and to experience an urge to discover more about them. Eye contact causes the muscles on the sides of your mouth to twitch upwards. Brain waves and chemical reactions go off just from hearing their name - or maybe smelling something familiarly them. These can all be explained by science, I suppose, but even that can only go so far.
Because this doesn't happen with every person. You have - even if you don't know it - triggers that are wholly unique to you. Otherwise you'd fall in love with anyone that you interacted with.
Fall in love. Have you ever done this? How do you know? What caused it? Do you believe it was instant or over time? Which way makes it real, truthful, or authentic? Could you even say there's a right way?
These questions are what make love hard to define.
Even more difficult is how to define "liking" someone.
Modern invention? Was this even an option thousands of years ago?
Because I've been befuddled with this question more and more within the past year. How do I know if I truly "like" someone, or if I just like the idea of "liking" them? What is controlling this emotion? Is it my co-dependency or is it their being/presence? Is it simply because I "enjoy the asymmetry of their face"? Or is there something about their soul that speaks to me?
Oh the soul. Let's assume a soul is a soul ok? I don't feel like figuring that one out just yet.
In any case, what makes everything that makes up you so attractive to everything that makes up me?
What plucks on the heartstrings? What causes the sparks and the butterflies? What causes us to say, "I don't know, but I like being around you" about someone over someone else?
Because this capacity to love - or like - doesn't seem to translate from one person to another. Not like our ability to use our thumbs, or the reason we prefer to walk upright. We learned to jump because we have to. We learned to like the way someone tilts their head because...we WANTED to?
If you look at the reasons we tend to like another person, it doesn't seem very evolutionary. At that, it's also the most perplexing. When we say we "like" someone, we are in essence telling them that we appreciate their unique brand of human. "No one humans like you human." Basically. This drives my curiosity on the subject. That we are even capable of having this built within us, somehow, that is unique to each individual and yet, somewhere in our being - or nature, - can connect with someone on a level much deeper than simple psychology can explain, is beyond comprehension.
And yet, going back to earlier questions, we are also capable of misinterpreting these emotions. To only THINK we "like" someone. To become jaded by our desires and instincts. What some would call an evolutionary facet I would call giving into your infatuation. That your want to connect and be close to someone is overtaking your unique ability to know who to choose. There is an algimation of beliefs and values and desires and passions and motivations and characteristics that give you - and only you - the ability to recognize who is and isn't right - right? - for you. The fact that we have these decisions. The fact that someone else could decide for us (whether or not they choose to reject or reciprocate those feelings). This is what sets us apart as individuals and as a species.
Yet we take it for granted.
We fail to recognize that this was somehow instilled into us from the beginning. Not us as humans. Us as individuals. That we might have been fearfully and wonderfully constructed. That this uniqueness comes from something that we can't fully understand. Because - why? Why would this be so unique to each of us?
It's not nurture.
Nurture did not cause me to grow up with a preference towards the girl who rolls her eyes in just the right way when I make a terrible pun (ie: dad joke) which simultaneously tells me she appreciates it and loathes it (which is, ironically, why I even like those puns in the first place) and yet accepts it because it is - in itself - wholeheartedly me; therefore she accepts me as well. No. Somewhere that desire was built deep within me. Not only that I might recognize it, but that I could even appreciate it. That a simple act as that one could cause my heart to flutter and my eyes to glimmer is more than nurture and nature. It has been imbedded. Uploaded. Designed. Purposefully created.
Life did not tell me to appreciate this facet over time. Something within my very being must have expressed this to me. It simply existed. It was my ability to observe it and recognize it that took time. Knowing what we want and knowing what we desire are two different things. One can be expressed in a list. The other shows up when it wants.
The same innate desire dictates why I might like the way one girl stands on her tip-toes when she is contemplating a decision. Or the way another brazenly flicks my head to help me escape my thoughts - when I become too introspective. Or the way another appreciates a book so much she can get lost within the aisles for hours. We have a capacity within us to choose these characteristics as preferences over others - and that thought is simply stunning.
This is why I find our capacity to love so intriquing. This is why I believe it is so much more than an evolutionary byproduct. Because these individual preferences were not passed down by my ancestors - that I know of - but seem to be somehow wholly unique to myself as a human being.
Perhaps, if we could appreciate this fact a little more, we might be able to accept ourselves more freely. We might be able to fully understand that our makeup as individuals is not simply cause-and-effect. We are not mistakes. If we could recognize our unique ability to love and to choose then we might be able to appreciate what a gift it is to even possess that capability in the first place.
Maybe then we wouldn't squander it. Misinterpret it. Take it for granted.
Because we are capable of expressing emotions beyond a given magnitude or set limitations.
And that is beautiful.