Friday, 26 February 2010

Mind vs. Body III

I had a really interesting conversation with a friend last week after work, and part of it revolved around the concept of love. I tried to make a distinction between love and being 'in love', and something clicked: this distinction seemed to me to be the clearest example of the difference between mind and body I have found thus far.

Loving and being 'in love' may seem synonymous to many, but for me they are two very different things. I have felt love for many people I've known and respected - friends, professors, writers, model photographers - but the best way I can describe my personal version of that sentiment is a warm, almost comfortable feeling that almost always brings a smile to my face. Love for me is a sentimental mix of respect, reliability and confidence. As for the physical sensations the sentiment brings me, it is a warm, almost fuzzy feeling I can almost feel leaping between my head and my heart.

Being 'in love', on the other hand, is a purely physical experience that affects the mind in a secondary way, a sensation that hinders or even ignores the mind altogether. I would say that being in love is a purely 'chemical experience' resulting, foremost, from the recognition of a genetically compatible mate, or, secondly, the recognition of a mate fitting (sometimes preconceived) ideals of what a perfect mate would be. The feeling of attraction, the need to touch, to hold, is only physical in its origins, and, although exhilarating, can sometimes be even quite painful.

I like the 'roller coaster' analogy of being in love: it's a good description of the ups and downs resulting from the battle between body and mind. One is first drawn by the animal giddiness and need, then restrained by the mind's 'secondary thoughts' about things such as personal situation, customs or morals.

The 'roller coaster' period always ends. One can have resurgences of the feelings chemical attraction create, but that can only happen if one maintains a positive relationship with one's mate, a relationship based on respect and confidence - or, in one word: love.