Posted by honestpoet on August 19, 2006
Someone recently took issue with the idea that love might be nothing more than a chemical reaction in the brain. I say might to be polite. In fact love IS nothing more than a chemical reaction in the brain. Well, I say nothing more because it has no supernatural source. But of course it’s more than that. It’s also my motivation to breathe. It’s the source of all sweetness. It’s what allows me to look at a pile of dirt and see it as beautiful, the way some of it sparkles in the sun like dark snow. But it is, at its root, a chemical reaction in the brain. Well, a cascade of chemical reactions centered in the brain, radiating out in waves of more chemicals down the lines of the nervous system. Our bodies are amazing things. But they are things, which follow rules, and our moods, our thoughts, are all tied up with them. And that’s okay. It’s enough.
It’s like the thing with evolution. A lot of folks I’ve talked to, in real life and online, about evolution, seem to have a problem with the idea that there’s no supernatural creator, or no spiritual creative force underpinning everything. That matter simply is, that physical forces are such that all this beauty we see came about on its own, given an immensity of time. But to me it’s enough. I don’t need to be made in the image of some deity. And I don’t need to feel like a player in some divine comedy. To me it’s enough, it’s downright awesome, that the snail’s shell spirals as beautifully as it does because of the mathematics of its molecules. To me it’s enough that my DNA took the material given it, material originally born in the bellies of stars, and arranged it suchly, following the design programmed in that double helix. It’s wonderful, even. It’s better than being a child of God. I’m a human being, full fledged, homegrown.
What’s the way forward for us, if we cling to the old ideas of the past? How will we ever see ourselves as one species, all kin, if we don’t recognize our common ancestry? And the ancestry we share with every living creature on the planet? We are entwined with this planet in truth, though we seem to feel ourselves as mere inhabitants. We were not plopped down here from somewhere else. We grew here like fruit on a tree. Sometimes the desire to see ourselves as separate strikes me as exhibiting the worst lack of self-esteem. Is it not enough to be an earthling? This planet is a rare jewel, at least in this quadrant of the galaxy. Talking with hubby about these things, he reminds me that the real reason folks are disinclined to forego religion (and you know, alternative spiritualities are just religions that aren’t widely accepted, so they’re included in this gentle diatribe) is that they want to live forever. And sure, death is scary (I had a pretty close brush with it myself not too long ago, so I know of what I speak). It’s so permanent. Even if you’re not afraid of hell, who wants to say goodbye forever? Who wants to miss out on all the fun? But there’s plenty of work to do, and pain, and grief. The way I see it, we’re lucky to be alive even once, with all the good stuff, and I wouldn’t want it too long, or again, with all the bad. So I’m just thankful for every day. And I’m trying to get enough work done that when I do finally check out of here, I’ll be ready to rest. But still, I don’t know. I don’t really know the total truth. What’s outside of our field of perception? What actually happens when we die? I’m pretty sure that our consciousness simply ends. Where does a flame go when a candle burns out? If there’s any knower left, I guess it’ll find out then. I know I can’t know now.
This morning, while practicing yoga, I saw a hummingbird; she was checking out the reflection of the feeder in the window. And later, while I was outside, I watched a giant swallowtail deposit eggs on my satsuma tree. (Did you know they taste, ie., identify plants, with the pads of their feet?) In what way is this life not enough?