Saturday, January 21, 2012
Dance of the Lizard Brains
Contemplating the reasons why unrequited and star-crossed love is more compelling (in movies and books at least) than "live happily ever after" love, brings me back to a thought I often entertain: most, if not virtually all of our behavior is linked in some way to instinct.
The life force is very influential! That force powers survival and procreation of the species on a personal as well as tribal level. Because we can't help but create stories about everything - it's how we're built - of course the story of consummation would loom large in our psyches. The story of how we consummate love is more interesting than the settle-down-and-live-happily-ever part. Once a baby is conceived, the instinct to procreate has been satisfied. Without instinct driving the storytelling we're always engaged in, interest drops off.
We aren't the only species to do the mating dance; in fact I don't know of any species that doesn't have some form of mating ritual. With these dances, back and forth, closer then further away, fighting, making up, making love, we honor the life force in all its majesty.
Hence in fact the drama of star crossed love is a sacred enactment of one of our most deeply seated instincts. We make these stories fantastic, complex, heart warming or wrenching, even funny, but the behavior from where these stories arises comes from the brain stem, not the fancy machinations of the frontal lobes.
It's interesting to think about.
Today in DC is icy, bitter. The lizard brainstem inside my big ole skull is directing me to stay safe. What that looks like from the vantage point of my storyteller cerebral cortex is a day mostly indoors, drinking tea and listening to music. In so doing I serve the will to survive by staying safe and warm.
I'm good with that! Shalom.