The Rhythm of Living
Did you know that there exists within your brain a particle called the “Suprachiasmatic nucleus”? It’s often referred to as your body’s Master Clock. It tells you when should hit the sack and also when to wake up.
The concept of Circadian Rhythm is more than just your body’s time clock. There are other mysteries in life that are related to the SCN that “Chronobiologists” are just beginning to understand. (And not). The power of suggestion is so strong it can often over-ride your SCN. For example, the SCN uses surrounding environmental conditions to tell you to wake up. The sunrise is a great example.
When I first started touring the U.S. I had trouble on the east coast having come from Pacific Standard Time. For me, waking at 6AM was like waking at 3AM. I soon learned that the natural way to not sleep through your wake up call was to leave the curtains open. Yes the Sun would wake me at 3AM PST if I needed to be up at 6AM EST.
Add the power of suggestion. I was told that if I had been drinking on that long flight from LAX to Logan, to take 2 Tylenol and tell myself that I was going to awaken at 6AM feeling refreshed and full of energy.
Although I quit drinking several years ago, I still use this if I have to wake at 3AM PST to catch a 6AM flight. But let’s go deeper into the SCN’s influence. A study was done about 40 years ago on young ladies in sororities. The results would make Esther Williams proud. In a house with 6 females, in time, they would all have synchronized menstrual cycles. Again, the theory of external ambience would alert the SCN that it was time to cleanse the uterus. Be it the subconscience smell of menstrual blood or the Tampon wrappers in the trash can.
The same function as the sun coming through the Hotel window would trigger a chronobiological response. Did you ever wonder why you could hold your bladder on a long car trip, but as soon as you got through the front door of your home, you practically had to reach down to hold your urethra shut? Your body knew the spot of urination was close.
Try explaining mutually synchronized orgasms. Try and explain the Pavlovian response to the smell of garlic, onions, oregano and Olive oil.
Finally, and I can’t begin to explain this last example. When spouses in long-term relationships or “LTRs” (I don’t know if they have to be close relationships, meaningful or just proximity) pass; the average time left for the surviving spouse is 2 – 9 years. It’s easy to understand that if we’re talking about a couple in their 70s, sure it’s not unusual for anyone to die in that decade of life. The problem is it happens earlier. (Sometimes in their 50s). I will admit 7 years is a long spread but most close LTR couples tend to pass on the 2 year end of the time period.
At this point in my life experience, I feel that we die when we are ready to die. When we lose a spouse or friend that we included in our daily lives, and they pass, it leaves us thinking we should go with them if we have no reason to continue living. Often when the other spouse continues past 9 years, we find that their work was their reason for living. This could be a reason why so many veterans with PTSD pull the plug on life. For that matter anyone who has had a life altering event. A beautiful model who had her face scared in an automobile accident and is no longer acceptable as a cover model falls victim to depression and then suicide. Much can be written about the many child stars that would grow up only to outgrow the cute 7 year old sitcom star. We see these young talents committing suicide as a result of feeling that their life has no purpose. They stop getting outside attention and lose that inner love for themselves. (Which turns to depression etc….)
Perhaps one of the greatest Baseball Players the state of Minnesota ever saw was a fantastic center fielder named Kirby Puckett. He was an annual All-star and a pillar in the community. In 1995 Puckett took a fastball in the eye from opposing pitcher and friend Dennis Martinez. Puckett was at the zenith of his career. He was winning batting titles and took the Twins to the World series twice.
During the following spring, Puckett was putting up impressive batting numbers once again hitting .344 in the Grapefruit league. On a morning in March, Puckett awoke to blindness in his right eye. He had developed Glaucoma which was left untreated over the off-season. In 1996 the phenom center fielder could no longer play the game and was forced to retire after 3 unsuccessful operations on his eye.
Leaving the game he loved was a sudden and traumatic turn for the all-star. Puckett would live another 9 years and die at the young age of 45 due to a Stroke. His life after early retirement was not one of bliss. He would divorce his wife and later go on to gain weight which was a concern to those who knew him. He let himself go. His weight was estimated at over 300 pounds He was the Youngest Hall of famer of modern times to die. (2nd all time to only Lou Gehrig).
What does the SCN or Circadian rhythm have to do with life? It seems everything. We have free will and our nucleus time clock responds to our intentions. When we stop loving ourselves, we have nothing left to live for. When we feel or tell ourselves we have nothing to live for, we die.