In her NY Times article, writer Jane Brody finds out about the power of love two years after her husband’s death. We can’t begin to know what their 44-year marriage was like, nor does she divulge much, though through her missing him we gather they had built a lifetime of good memories together. Nowadays, it’s easy to mock monogamy, marriage or commitment as pedestrian and oh so 1950s.
Avoid the reality at your own peril; love, it turns out, is the healthiest habit of all.
Brody writes: “In study after study… people in loving relationships with spouses or friends were healthier than those lacking this intimacy, even when the latter had healthier living habits.”
She’s not talking just romantic love, but connections that span genitals and generations. For example, where once in society we lived side by side with grandparents and valued their wrinkles as testament to wisdom and history, today the elderly are often neglected, out of sight, passed their use-by dates. Youth is revered despite their lack of proven ability, and matters of the heart and blessings of the hearth bore the daylights out of brains fed on bigger, better, faster and more. Her thesis is solid, considerate and worthy of reading, no need for me to repeat it here.
If there’s one thing I can add to Brody’s sage exploration into the importance of connections to our collective human experience, it is this: we are wired for companionship. Our greatest gifts aren’t that we are the fastest species on the planet; the ones with the sharpest teeth, the deepest roots, the most muscle mass or even the biggest brain (dolphins brain’s are bigger than ours).
We may think that competition is human nature, and survival of the fittest rules and informs our world view. However, even Darwin said something that’s often forgotten. Humans benefit from “the greater strength of the social or maternal instincts than that of any other instinct or motive.” For more on this, I like the essay by Dacher Keltner, Darwin’s Touch: Survival of the Kindest. We are learning much about the neurobiology of intrapersonal relationships, and in my opinion, this is some of the most exciting contributions to my understanding of philosophy of ecosexuality.
If he were alive today, I’d call Darwin an ecosexual. He understood the bond between the natural world and our intimate landscapes. We are social beings. We need one another. Sympathy and kindness make the world go round. In times of crisis, we are reminded of the greater good and pull together, neighbor helping neighbor, nation helping nation. Survival of the kindest will save the day, and it starts by looking deep within and knowing, we are one.
It is my opinion that love is the healthiest habit for us to choose, time and time again, but it’s often very hard for us to do. Why is that? What stops you from doing the loving thing, from building connections, from operating from a place of emotional deficit rather than believing there is abundance in your life?
Photo credit "Kiss" by Pedrosimoes, Flickr Creative Commons
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