ROMANTIC IDEAS OF LIFE

This morning I awoke to the soft sound of raindrops hitting the tin roof of my new log cabin, curled up in a quilt, alone. Not so long ago that romantic image alighted the fantasy of living by myself in a log cabin in the mountains. It is now a reality, and not nearly as romantic; especially when I have to get up to load logs into the wood fire so I don’t freeze by morning. Merriam Webster describes romantic as: having no basis in fact; imaginary. Marked by the imaginative or emotional appeal of what is heroic, adventurous, remote, mysterious or idealized.

In Chinese medicine, this visionary characteristic belongs to the element known as wood, which governs the right brain’s ability to create what we would like to see, and implement plans to move toward. It also governs the emotional qualities of longing, yearning, and desire. Physiologically, the wood energies are able to harness our foundational reproductive energies and reroute them toward achievement of whatever goal we have envisioned: a new career, a new home, or perhaps more money. Nature, I have noticed, does not utilize this right brain characteristic to reproduce itself. It simply takes the reproductive energies, alights them, and creates more of itself. When nature moves toward a “goal”, it is in survival mode, and turns off the reproductive energies so it can achieve its directive of staying alive. Human beings are the only creatures who possess romantic ideas that can actually blind them to the harsh realities of life as it is, so we can create what we want. Is this a gift or a curse?

Although all of life hungers to remain alive and can take action to do so, human beings are the only creatures who seem to have opinions about what is, judge it as right or wrong, and move toward its “correction.” Again, we move out of reproductive mode and into survival mode when we alter our world to fit our ideas about it. It is precisely what allows us to take our creative energies and instead of creating babies, we can create art, museums, industrial products, religions and wars. When a goal is created in the mind and we move toward it, our hormonal focus shifts away from supporting the housekeeping functions like digestion and reproduction. The hypothalamus reduces production of gonadotropin releasing hormone, and produces gonadotropin inhibitory hormone instead. And the cascade goes on and on, altering pituitary, ovarian and cellular function to take us out of baby making mode.

In fact, this whole process is generated by our romantic ideas. When a baby is an idealistic goal, it moves out of our reproductive capacity to create it. I remember taking the pure longing for a child, turning it into a goal, and using all I knew to try to make it happen. BBT charts, timed intercourse, doctor visits, lab values, altering diet, and getting treated, as if I would magically come up with the baby recipe. Nope. Babies are not romantic ideas. Mine came on their own when I stopped trying to make them.

Life does what it does. When it is time to be in a cabin alone, the opportunity shows up. When it is time to stoke the fire, I stoke the fire. The more I can let go of my ideas about it, the more Life can live itself through me, beautifully unobstructed by my romantic goals.