Sunday, January 13, 2013

Good Morning Jessicca...

Letter to My Daughter
Sunday, 13 January

American Gothic - Grant Wood

Here’s a thought before I get to Jessicca’s letter:  we don’t make love complicated.  We don’t have to.  How many books, songs and movies explore this topic?  Human love is so nuanced, surprising, joyous and absolutely terrible.  The reason we muster to solve our daily challenges is often replaced with foolishness, delusion and deceit when matters of passionate love confront us on our otherwise carefully plotted sane path.

Do I wish for a world limited to the hushed librarian tones of persuasion when resolving relational disquiet?  Hardly.  My God, there are times in a couple’s life that requires adamant passion, the vivid conviction of one’s heart.  This in no way implies violence unless we take into account the bed having been brought crashing down by the now exhausted couple somewhere near the break of dawn.  Yeah, love can be like that. 

Adam and Eve - Masolino da Panicale
Good Morning Jessicca…

We all know of evolution and how various environmental factors influence the development of biology over time.  We can follow the course of this action from the fossils we unearth.  It’s about the variability of genetics exhibited within individuals of a particular species population and which ones are more likely to reproduce, insuring their characteristics are represented in succeeding generations.  

8 1/2 - Federico Fellini

The fundamental thing about us humans is that we increasingly control our environment and we've greatly improved the likelihood of survival of nearly all individuals.  So what factors most contribute to our own genetic design?  Let me offer you the intriguing possibility that sex appeal has become a significant determinant in our own evolutionary development.  Sounds crazy, doesn't it?  I must be joking.  Think about it, though.  Many vertebrate animals mate based on the appeal of an individual of the opposite sex.  You see evidence of this in ritual mating behavior, such as the display of colors or acts of dominance.  

Henry and June - Anais Nin

People are complex.  We usually make decisions that lead to having children on factors in addition to appearance and charm.  Desire is a very strong incentive but alone it makes for only a brief encounter.  People commit to long term relationships having considered characteristics such as trust, stability, respect and earning potential.  Eye appeal leads to an introduction, conversation – a personality assessment that may continue with an extended period of  ‘getting to know’ each other.  When lightening strikes a committed relationship between the two becomes understood.  In this manner women contribute their influence to future characteristic of men and men do likewise with women.  Each sex helps determine the nature of the other.  It’s nothing new.  It’s part of the history of men and women.  But the impact of gender appeal on our genetic make up has increased as other evolutionary pressures on us diminish.  For instance, we no longer fear being fed upon by predators.  Mental shrewdness supplants brute strength as a demonstrated key to success in a technological society.  The appeal based on sexual desire may change little over time but societal considerations evolve with changing circumstance and they do have significant effect in choosing a partner to raise a family.  

End of the Affair - Graham Greene

Is this about love?  I don’t know.  It’s complicated.  There are so many aspects to love – love of family, love of children… romantic love.  They aren’t the same.  They make differing demands of us.  Romantic loves leads to love of one’s own children.  What about endurance?  Love of a child tends to last a lifetime.  Romance is often fleeting, especially with the pressures of raising a family.  

Eyes Wide Shut - Stanley Kubrick

The love between partners changes in nature.  It may remain equally intense but the excitement of desire ebbs with familiarity.  The love shared by two adults in a relationship can not be taken for granted.  It is not reliable.  You can’t leave your spouse in a pumpkin shell.  The human heart is too easily stolen.  

Scenes from a Marriage - Ingmar Bergman

Then, too, human nature doesn’t conveniently fit into societal expectations, social needs.  Human sexuality is not simple, never has been.  Society’s tolerance of an individual’s personal disposition soon leads to the discover that people diverge widely from the proscribed norm.  We’re not a population of squares and circles, after all.  Chances are there are few true squares and circles anywhere, even among those that wish it otherwise.  The genie is out of the bottle and suppressing the nature of the human heart is out of fashion.  What it all means is that new freedoms present new challenges to one’s personal happiness.  At some point we are overwhelmed by complexity.  A life of simple squares and circles may seem a blessing.  We give up something to gain something else. 

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? - Edward Albee

We are complicated, mentally and emotionally.  We just want to simply love and be loved.  You have your entire life in front of you and you undoubtedly anticipate the future with relish.  I’m dragging a heavy chain of years and I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed.  I see challenge.  You see opportunity.  That’s why my stay here isn't open ended.  At some point the brain fills up with experience and you just plain run out of thinking room to decide on what next to do.  

Persona - Ingmar Bergman

As long as people cherish Valentine’s Day I suppose we’re safe.


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