I’m not a sentimental person. Sentimental, according to my beloved Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, means “marked or governed by feeling, sensibility, or emotional idealism” whereas elemental means (second definition) “of, relating to, or resembling a great force of nature.” One can see right off that sentimental things are more tied in to culture, or what one has been taught, while elemental things are more closely tied to observable phenomena, more scientific, in other words. Love, then, in its elemental form, serves two major purposes: 1) to aid in procreation, in that it can cause or be caused by physical desire and 2) to release chemicals into the bloodstream that create feelings of harmony and well-being. What kinds of love jar these love chemicals loose from the glands they are so miraculously stored in?
First and foremost for the procreation of the species is lust, the most basic kind of love. Those lust chemicals build up like a mighty sea at the sight of a lust object, not only giving the bodies affected a great cardio workout just in the looking, with its unquestionable benefit health-wise, but also the possibility of actual orgasm with its floodgates releasing beneficial chemicals into the bloodstream. As healthy as these lust chemicals are, they also create the potential for higher-level love chemicals to follow, forming chemical bonds that can last a lifetime.
How often have you hugged your mom, a brother, your caring grandmother and felt the release of warm, loving chemicals into your bloodstream? These are from the elemental love called family. These sweet chemicals are released, not only from a hug or kiss, but also from kind words of encouragement, everyday routines, sharing of experiences and just plain old proximity. We know that people who enjoy the release of these familial chemicals into old age actually live longer. This remarkable chemical factory called our body is equipped to drug us as needed. Of course, it also sends out other kinds of chemicals as needed, including ones to make us flee or go into shock to avoid excessive pain and trauma, but for purposes of this discussion, the focus is on love chemicals. That’s not to say that adrenalin is not a love chemical in that it is showing its love by helping us out. But our focus here is on those warm-feeling chemicals that can make us happy, not just alive.
How about friendship? What teen is not constantly seeking those feelings of belonging? What causes those feelings? Right. Love chemicals. They may not be released in as dramatic a way as from an orgasm or a hug from Grandma, but they must be constantly being released during a friendship. Think of the alienation felt by people who have no friends. Think of the depression of a young person with no friends around. When the love chemicals are missing, the body desponds, just as when they are present, the body responds.
Yesterday, when I saw a picture of Martin Luther King, Jr., I felt some warm, loving chemicals flow into my bloodstream. Acts of kindness that lifted an entire country out of ugliness into a more beautiful, though by no means perfect, society still have the power to activate my chemical system more than forty years later. This is not sentiment: it is the elemental love my body was designed for.
Causes Yuma Michaels Supports
NDRC, Southern Poverty Law Center, Greenpeace