I beg to disagree with this phrase, and bare with me this sort of a silly argument. We are not made of anything but feelings. The rest is nothing but phrases. In fact, phrases inspired on our feelings. Scientists have not discovered or uncovered the paths of our reasoning, we don’t know where does consciousness arises from, nor we know just yet the exact working of our brains. And it is just perfectly possible that when it comes to the brain, although some general rules apply, everyone is “wired” differently, but most of us have a hug part dedicated to feelings and social behavior.
We are in fact made of atoms, and we have stories, but nor our atoms or our stories define us. The only real thing that sort of defines each and every individual is what we understand by “feelings.” They impact our decisions, they make us create or erase stories. They improve our performance in almost anything or decrease it. Feelings define us as human beings. Without them we are nothing but atoms. The simplest forms of life that have a brain behave way differently than us. Insects for instance, like bees, may have a collaborative “behavior,” but is it really a behavior in the sense that they feel and decide, or is it more of blunt impulse? They act as a collective with simple tasks, grow, eat, reproduce, die and be replaced by the next. We, although it may appear that we behave like basic ants, we are and behave differently.
Feelings, define every aspect of our life. Fear, love, hate, devotion, nostalgia, etc. There is only one more thing that makes us “us.” And it is self awareness. In certain point of our development as human beings we become self aware. We understand we are an individual, and we realize that the individual we see in a mirror is us, then we also understand we are different from others and we create an image of us and the rest.
From that point on, feelings are in command. Hence, they define us. They can be our paradise or our prison. They can be our safe port or a constant storm. They dominate us.
Humans, we, fool ourselves thinking that we are in control of our decisions or our lives. And it is not the case. We buy phones based on publicity, on how many times we see an add being repeated at us on TV or the Internet. We follow a career without knowing what we really want (we may never know). We behave erratically, and “humanly.” It took millions of years of evolution of brains and eyes and ears so that we can be at this point, so that we can be interacting on this blog. And so, eyes learned and were stressed by environment to improve, be better, recognize patterns like faces, or animals behind some bushes either to hunt or to be on guard. Hands evolved and we could create tools grab a knife, create fire. But feelings? Where do they come from? The idea of a romantic love seems kind of new. I can’t possibly imagine a man 6000 years ago deciding about if continue or not with a long distance relationship. If you were to move from Egypt to Turkey, or to Europe, your lover or wife would get another “provider” and that is the end of story. No cyber sex, no staring into a screen screaming (streaming?) digital love. Then some couple thousand years later, love became only part of the lives of some wealthy and rich. A slave would not be able to decide who to love. Everything would be imposed by the master. Or even if love were to arouse, the feeling was simple, either I love you or not. But I tend to believe that until couple of hundred years ago, we really did not started playing with the concept of love as a society. People (still today) used to marry by convenience. A woman would say “I feel lonely” then she would get some guy. A guy would feel some desires, he would get some girl. Or the opposite may also be true.
You see… evolution never stressed out this construction of “feelings” as much as today. And probably this is creating a less violent society. But this feelings also create tons of complications in our lives.
People seem to develop deep feelings, and then they would just lock them in. They would create fantasies to support ideas that are opposite to the feelings they have. They may love deeply someone and at the same time be with someone else just because they are lonely. As I said, this was the case for thousands of years, but today it is not anymore. People travel from one continent to another just to find or chase their love. People struggle for love and decide on their careers based exactly on that. At the same time, people may do very stupid stuff that could hurt themselves or those they love. They would cheat, they would declare their love (maybe sincerely) and yet have something with other people. People would enter a state of complete contradiction between their basic needs and urges and their deeper feelings. And I seem not to understand it. We seem to understand that cheating is wrong. because we would loose the trust of the other, and this is a basic emotion, I need to trust you to build something with you (business, friendship, etc). So in a sense, our primitive structures of the brain struggle with the ones that produce feelings in sort of a battle. We do things that will hurt others, and that pain most likely will eventually hurt us. So, to me, this is a deep reason for personal unhappiness or happiness. Feelings can be your prison or your paradise. This is a very deep and important reason. The only way to be happy is to truly pursue our feelings. To understand them and work towards the realization of those feelings. Failure to follow your feelings will hurt others and hurt oneself. Nina Simone very well sang about it once in Montreal…
Without feelings, if we were just atoms with a simple brain, we would reproduce, eat and die. With brain and feelings we create stories that would later identify us, and define us. First we were atoms, then we built feelings, after we became stories. What kind of story do you want for your life? What kind of ending?
Once in a taxi, a woman said to me something that she had very clear, “si quiere, puede” (If you want, you can). That, I believe, I want to be my story. And maybe that is the key to change the prison for a paradise. Si quiere, puede.