Sunday, September 26, 2010

That one little degree of separation....

     Oh, I love college.  Just absorbing all this new information has got to do a brain good. I'm also hoping it will help to slow down the mental drain that occurs in mid-life, that sloughing off of gray matter that leaves us addled, forgetful, confused.  I am trying to plump up all those dying brain cells with as much new knowledge as I can absorb in order to ward off, or at least slow down,  dementia.  This week alone I have learned so many exciting facts about our bodies, our brains, and how and why we behave the way we do that I think my neurons may be firing again.  I also think I'm becoming somewhat of an expert on the human condition (which leads me to believe dementia is still hovering in the dark areas of my mind). Regardless, I offer you the highlights of last week's lessons, a quick synopsis, college in a nutshell, and some observations on the human condition called life.
Geology lesson for the week:
     We are delving into evolution, which can be a rather delicate and uncomfortable subject. The whole evolution thing is fascinating to me, because first of all, I am a firm believer that we were created by God and that overrides any scientific theories that exist. I don't have a problem with evolution because I  believe God could have handled the creation process anyway He wanted to. So as long as I am certain of the WHO in the process of our creation,  I just don't get too caught up in the HOW. God has the capacity to let this whole creation process evolve in whichever manner He so designed, so it just doesn't throw me when scientists say we are an evolving species. Fine, evolve away, because God is controlling the whole process, and we are all a part of His plan, like it or not.
     Back to our lesson.  The fascinating thing about the myriad of evolving species is that the major difference between homo sapiens and primates originated in the jawbone.  The jawbone of an ape is controlled by a muscle that is the same size as the human thigh muscle. Picture someone like, oh say, Peyton Manning, and then imagine his thigh muscle attached to your jaw.Wait a minute, get your mind out of the gutter...I am talking in a purely scientific manner here. The point is that it's a huge muscle that controls their jaw, therefore giving primates the power to bite, rip, maul, crush, and tear with tremendous force. The drawback  is that the muscle exerts such a pull and force on the skeleton that it circumvents the capacity for the skull plates to remain open. It literally pulls the skull with such energy that the plates fuse by the time the primates are three years old, halting brain development and leaving them with the mental capacity of a toddler. That explains a lot.  I have come to believe that the one percent figure that separates us from monkeys is a variable... I am quite certain I know some people that are separated from apes by less than one degree.   You know who I'm talking about-- those members of the species homo sapiens that just can't ever seem to keep their mouths shut, the ones who always have an opinion to spew or something to spout off, the ones who seem to have experienced arrested brain development but overdeveloped jaw muscles. This leads us to our next class,
 Psychology of Marriage.
     This has got to be one of my favorites, simply because of the diversity of the student population and the level of knowledge and experience within the whole marriage cycle that is exhibited in the classroom.  There are about thirty students in the class that range in age from 18 to 50. The professor has been married for thirty-one years to her high school sweetheart who still happens to be her best friend. In my opinion, that alone makes her an expert on marriage.. The class consists of unmarried students, married students, divorced students, single-parent students, co-habitating students, celibate students, relationship-committed students....suffice it to say there is a wide range of experience within our numbers.  The topic, of course, is marriage, and the opinions present are as widely varied as the facts. This week we dealt with the different types of love, focusing primarily on Sternberg's Triangle of Love theory. Once again, get your mind out of the gutter. We are not discussing a menage a trois here, but a scientific theory regarding the different types of love.  The common denominator, or the triangular component, is that every relationship consists of three essential ingredients: commitment, passion, and intimacy. The varying degree to which each component is present in a relationship is the variable that determines the quality of the relationship. Commitment  we can understand. Passion we can understand. But intimacy is a little more complex. It involves communication and respect. Couples must talk openly and honestly with each other, share feelings and beliefs, but still maintain respect for the other person's privacy.  You have to know when to talk and when to just leave the other person alone and content within their little private corner of life.
     This is the part I love. Suddenly, the whole jawbone of an ape thing makes perfect sense.   It's that one degree variable that can make or break a relationship. It is the degree of seperation between a happy couple and a miserable one, and it all goes back to the jawbone. Keeping your mouth shut as much as possible can be extremely beneficial. It will not only aid your brain development, it can also save your marriage.
     And that is why I love college.  Suddenly, everything makes sense again. God certainly knew what He was doing when He ripped the jawbone of the ape away from man, sealing our mouths in order for our brains to grow, therefore giving us the capacity to develop discernment, judgement, compassion, respect, intelligence, wonder, and awe. It's that one little degree of separation...and it is what I will think about the next time I decide to open my big mouth.
     So even at my advanced age, I'm still learning some of the facts of life, and  to heck with Darwin, I'm presenting Daly's Theory of Evolution: The origin of man began when God created us in His image but limited our capacity to open our mouths, therefore leading to the following equation of life:   Mouth shut = Brain Open.

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