On Age, Music and Chemicals in the Brain

music

A few days ago, I came across this interesting post on serotonin and dopamine and was reminded of it yesterday as I was listening to the songs of Barry Manilow. (OK. Please. Just be patient with me. I do have a point I want to share.)

When I was younger (“…so much younger than today…”) whenever I heard Barry Manilow’s songs, I would sing along until I cried (Yeah, I was that disgustingly dramatic.) I would think of the guys that I liked but didn’t even know I existed, or the guys that I liked but were not free, or the only one that broke my heart to pieces. (Who would not cry listening to “Even Now” and “Somewhere down the Road”???)

Now that I’m in my 40’s and in a stable, loving relationship with my husband of 10 years, and together raising a child, I feel absolutely nothing when I hear the songs that used to make me cry and later make me smile. When I listened to those same songs yesterday, there was not even a sigh. Nada. It seemed like that part of my mind or my heart just disappeared!

My husband thinks it’s just because I’m over that time in my life. Well, I have been over that period in my life for years now. But I used to have fond memories of that time. Now, even that fondness is gone.

So I wonder if those chemicals in my brain are up to something, or I am just getting old or already old.

Do old songs still make you cry or smile or angry? Do they have any effect on you at all? 

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Neruda’s “If You Forget Me”: A Lesson in Loving

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Centennial Park, Iligan, Philippines

Whether Pablo Neruda wrote this poem for his country, Chile, or for his wife, Matilde Urrutia does not make much difference to me. I like the kind of love portrayed in this poem. I like the tone of the speaker as he warns his lover …

“If you forget me

I want you to know
one thing. ” 

It is not the sound of a desperate, pathetic lover who begs or promises to continue  to wait even though the other has moved on.

It shows a speaker who thinks and is not controlled by silly emotions, a speaker/lover who demands reciprocity in a relationship.For truly, if one can be, and is reasonable, one will demand reciprocity in a relationship.

(Even God demands, commands love and faithfulness!)

“If suddenly
you forget me
do not look for me,
for I shall already have forgotten you.”

Who wants to be forgotten by the one person you cannot forget? Of course, trying to forget someone is easier said than done. The more you try to forget, the more you will be reminded. This is perhaps the speaker’s way of saying, “Don’t think  I will be pining for you. I will forget you before you can completely forget me!”

“If you think it long and mad,
the wind of banners
that passes through my life,
and you decide
to leave me at the shore
of the heart where I have roots,
remember
that on that day,
at that hour,
I shall lift my arms
and my roots will set off
to seek another land. 

“…and my roots will set off/ to seek another land.” This is how it should be. One should be brave in seeking and starting a new life and not waste time and energy on someone who has forgotten.

Yet….

Though the poem begins with a kind of warning, a threat as to what the speaker can do should his lover forget him, it ends with a promise, an enticement as to what he can give if his lover remains true to him,

“…ah my love, ah my own,
in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
my love feeds on your love, beloved,
and as long as you live it will be in your arms
without leaving mine.” 

Reciprocity.

  • Click here for the English version of the poem
  • Click here for  the Spanish version (Si Tu Mi Olvidas)
  • Click here to listen to Madonna read the English version of the poem.

On Forgiveness and Second Chances

 

I have often wondered what Jesus meant when he said one should forgive seventy times seven (Matthew 18:21-35). I don’t think anyone will take that literally (like 490 times), but I guess it means many, many times.

If God could forgive the world for what the world did to His Son (unlike Leonardo diCaprio’s character in The Revenant), then how could we, mere mortals, not forgive our fellow mortals?

But that’s just it. We are not God. We can try to forgive one person many, many times, but in the end the other gift that God gave us –reason, logic — would teach us to protect ourselves from being fooled, cheated or hurt again.

My question then is, is it immoral to refuse to give someone who has betrayed you,  lied to you, hurt you,  for the nth time, a chance for the nth time?

In the parable, the king sounded like a businessman, a moneylender who was compassionate enough to cancel a slave’s debt and actually “let him go”, after the latter begged the king to give him time to pay the debt.

Say for instance, the parable ended there, and the slave did not beat up a fellow slave who had owed him, would the king have trusted the same slave again? Would he have lent him money again? I don’t think so.

My point then is, yes, we can forgive people for the many times they betrayed our trust,for the many times they hurt us. But I think only a fool would give the same amount of trust to traitors/wrongdoers.

To me, forgiveness means accepting the fact that one was wronged, and not wishing the wrongdoer any ill, and actually sincerely wishing him well. But it does not necessarily mean giving him a second chance. Rather, it means letting him go his own way. Alone. Peacefully.

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”

Of Exciting Beginnings and Boring Endings

Mad Men Dr. Faye Miller of “Mad Men”

Photo Source

“Mad Men: Tomorrowland (#4.13)” (2010)

Don Draper: I met somebody and… we’re engaged.
Faye Miller: Are you kidding me?
Don Draper: I know, I know. It’s a surprise. It was for me, too.
Faye Miller: Jesus. Who is she?
Don Draper: What’s the difference? I fell in love. I didn’t mean for this to happen. You’ve been very important to me.
Faye Miller: So you’re not going to put an ad in the “New York Times” saying you never liked me?
Don Draper: Faye.
Faye Miller: Well, I hope you’re very happy. And I hope she knows you only like the beginnings of things. 

Quote Source: http://www.imdb.com/character/ch0303746/quotes

Two totally unrelated happenings I was a witness to today reminded me of this line from Faye. In fact I have never forgotten this line ever since I heard it because I think in relationships, everyone is guilty of this. Well, perhaps not everyone, but most people.

This morning in a restaurant, I sat at a table for two, and next to mine was a table for six and there sat a septuagenarian-looking couple. Instead of sitting directly across from each other or next to each other, they sat diagonally opposite each other, directly facing an empty seat. And they were just eating. In silence. Companionable silence, perhaps, but they seemed lost in their own thoughts. Only one time did the woman say something about the food without even looking at the man, and I just heard the man make a sound like “hmm.”

This scene was in sharp contrast to the text messages I was receiving from my friend, who has met somebody new whom he says he’s not interested in romantically, but who he cannot stop talking about. His excitement over a new person he has met (and this has happened several times in the few years I’ve known him) amuses me. I enjoy observing his reaction and understanding how men think, and reminiscing the times I, too, got excited about meeting somebody new.

When you meet somebody new that you like, you cannot stop thinking about them and getting in touch with them and telling your family, friends, and anyone who’s willing to listen, about how wonderful/cool/nice they are. To me, it’s like being in high school all over again, where every word that’s spoken (now, texted or posted on social media) by said person seems to be directed at you or is related to your “friendship”; every gesture or action seems to be a code you have to decipher (when, really, there is no hidden meaning whatsoever.)

Dr. Faye Miller, being a psychologist, must know that Don’s behavior or preference for beginnings is all too common. But knowledge does not equal acceptance, especially when that knowledge hurts our feelings.

I like exciting beginnings, but I can’t bear boring endings. I don’t like how after a few weeks of “friendship”, your “friend” acts like you don’t know each other. It’s something I experienced in my youth, and I often hear from young friends who ask “Why? What happened? What did I do?” Sigh. (It’s what you didn’t do.)

One thing I’m grateful for, being in my 40’s, is the wisdom to see through exciting beginnings. Most of them don’t last. But one can work on it, I guess. They don’t have to have a boring ending. I know I wouldn’t want my husband and me to end up not looking at each other anymore, or worse, not talking. After 9 years, we still talk a lot about the things we both are interested in, and laugh at ourselves and at each other in a loving way.

I would not trade that for an exciting beginning that has an uncertain ending.

May you always have exciting beginnings that won’t have boring endings! 🙂