Saturday, June 27, 2009

Biology is Neat

There have recently been a slew of progeny-related posts on the blog (here, here, and here) and I've been thinking on the subject a lot lately. Because here's the situation: I am a twenty-three year old female, fresh in the real (read: non-scholastic) world. I'm in a committed relationship (sorry boys) but I'm not married. It's 2009 and society and technology are leaps and bounds ahead of where they were even ten or twenty years ago, let alone hundreds or thousands. But my body doesn't know all that. My body doesn't know (or really care about) any of that.

My body knows I am a twenty-three year old female, and that I hit puberty about eleven years ago. It doesn't know about trans fats but it knows when I'm hungry, you know what I mean?

It doesn't know about the sexual revolution and medical advancements, but it knows my biological clock. It doesn't know about personal politics and overpopulation, but it knows when I see, hear, smell, touch a baby. It knows and it reacts extremely viscerally, because it wants one. It wants one bad.

To my body, it is lucky to have survived and prospered twenty-three years and there is no time to wait. Who knows if a sabre-toothed tiger or a famine lurks around the next corner?

And I think that's amazing. Because for all the pomp and circumstance we give our brains and our ideas, our bodies are ancient and steadfast. They're also wise in ways we often (especially the "we" in our Puritan-based society) refuse to accept, but that post is for another day. This post is just to marvel at all of modern society and medicine in the face of one ancient instinct: to continue the species.

I heard somewhere that babies are cute for their own survival; so that their mothers will want more to take care of them. And that ever-enticing baby smell? It's a special pheromone that wears off about two years into the baby's life, one that the mother will notice its lack and literally crave it again, thus assuring babies spaced out in a manner so that the parents will continue having children without being unreasonably overburdened or undernourished themselves.

And most everyone knows that women have 10% more body fat, and in general it is much more difficult for a woman to lose weight than a man, but I recently learned why: back in the hunter/gatherer days, a famine could wipe out an entire generation of unborn babies, so the women who passed on their genes were the ones who could keep and store fat for ten months, even when there were little to no new nutrients coming in. So here we are with our accelerated fast food and fertilization technology and our ancient, ever so meticulously evolved bodies, and it's no wonder we're a mess. But maybe we wouldn't be if we listened a little closer to what our bodies are telling us and why, and thought about how we can fit better, healthier, in our accelerated world.

Bodies are amazing. Nature is amazing. And me? I'm going to try to let my intensely burning nurturing instinct run wild on my pets, who were almost all saved from terrible fates in some way or another, in my relationships, and in my art. For now, anyway.

Not a sermon, just a thought.


Matt Lindeboom said...

I like science. It's like religion without the guilt.

Matt Lindeboom said...

Also, do men detect the new baby pheromones? Or is it just women?

B.Graham said...

that's something I don't know for sure, but I bet men at least detect it on some level...

bletanas said...

At any rate, I liked some of the vadlo science cartoons!