|image from Scientific American|
Humans, then, are on a continuum of all creatures and living things. We are not so different after all. Flies get angry, snails get scared, and dogs get happy. They don't have consciousness awareness, but they do have emotions. This may seem like fanciful projection, but I suspect that metaphors we inherited from the industrial revolution have veiled how freaky cool, as a friend of mine likes to say, life really is.
Staying alive while moving about is primarily, though not only, a matter of sorting for safety and danger. When we fall in love, our whole being tells us that this person is safe, but it very rarely stays that way. When we have a bodied sense of danger, when our internal alarm bell goes off, we engage in all sorts of behavior ranging from seeking and clinging to cutting off and attacking. There is a disorienting shadow side to love: broken hearts, betrayal, loss, and loneliness. We suffer in part because we are creatures who care.
We are just now beginning to put love under the microscope, and some might want to reduce love to mere chemicals, but I think it is not only fair, but also true, to say that the lived experience of love leaves us with a wonderful though often tragic mystery.
--Christian Early is a Danish immigrant who teaches philosophy at Eastern Mennonite University.