31 Oct


 Slopes of Vesuvius photo PICT0019aa-1.jpg

My wife and I on the road up Vesuvious a few years ago.

I’ve been thinking about love a little bit recently. It’s an odd subject for an old fart like me, I know, but it keeps imposing itself on my daily toil via the gift of a wife.
The thing is, love, like a hooked nose, grey eyes or webbed feet, is part of evolution’s constant struggle to improve the species by adapting it more neatly to its environment. Maybe the hooked nose fell by the wayside for quite a lot of us, and it could be that grey eyes had no particular survival merit and most certainly webbed feet are a rarity, but love, it seems is enduring and so powerful that, at the right moment, it can reduce a fully grown man to tears.
It can be quite amusing working out the pitfalls encountered by Mother Nature during the struggle for perfection that ended up with the birth of my wife. We all know our environment and how it hasn’t changed to any significant degree since a brave little hominid climbed out of a tree and strode purposefully along an African valley floor. But we’ve changed. We’ve adapted rather beautifully, so much so that if we try to live on any other planet or satellite in the solar system (or in the neighbourhood of any other sun, as far as we know) we’d find ourselves ill-adapted to enjoy life or even survive at all.
Of course, we need to ensure that there are future generations to follow on behind us, for without the future the present would be a pretty pointless affair. So we reproduce. We pair off and do the delightful deed as many times as we can until the female half of the pairing grows large and produces an angel. Then we nurture that infant for years and years until it’s an independent adult and can do the same itself.
That’s most likely where love comes into the story.
Evolution has produced an arrangement in which both male and female parents stick together. They wouldn’t necessarily have to: the female could naturally acquire a whole regiment of temporary partners and that would suffice for part of the parental task – one to nurture and another to provide, initially out in the forests with a spear and eventually in the office with a secretary. But the male, in those circumstances, would have little vested personal interest in the development of another man’s offspring.
Much better for the original parents to stick together. It doesn’t always work out, of course. There’s the sabre-toothed tiger waiting to take him out if he has a careless moment, and in an intelligent species like ours it’s possible that individuals might not always continue to see eye-to-eye about important things, like life, and eventually split up. But in the majority of cases the parents remain together, at least until the job’s done. And that’s where, I think, love comes into it.
It’s not just physical things that are cosseted by evolution. Mental things are as well, and we are all equipped with a weird and dominating instinct to as good as worship another human being. It must have started as a fleeting little affection and it grew as the more successful parents were also lovers until it became the mighty emotion that it is today. It certainly stops us wandering off and it persists, as far as I can tell, for the remainder of our days, even beyond the dependent stage of our children. It’s strong, powerful, batters us on a daily basis, can have a physical outlet – but not necessarily – and provides each day of our lives with a huge something extra. It contributed to family stability, and when the family’s gone it continues to exercise a benign power on our lives.
How, you might ask, do I know this?
Well, tomorrow is my wife and my wedding anniversary and although we’ve only been married for six years they’ve been six of the most splendid years a man could have. We both say we’d like to have met earlier in our lives, but we didn’t. And both of us being septuagenarians and almost sensible with it, we know this heaven of ours can’t last for ever.
We have been caught up in evolution’s promise for the future and that means there’s precious little that I wouldn’t do for her. You see, I really do love her. It’s overpowering. It’s mighty. It guides my every mood and almost dictates my thoughts.
Woof woof!
© Peter Rogerson 31.10.14


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