This was a question I couldn’t help ponder after listening to Prince William talk about his mother Princess Diana. Reflecting on his memories from twenty years earlier, he said “I can still feel her love today, I really can.”
This love while most pronounced with her sons was not limited to them. Two other grown men recalled with precision the care and comfort she had provided to them on a visit to their home in Bosnia. Both had lost their legs to land mines. She inspired them with words that echo in them twenty years later.
Love is a powerful feeling and while it is oft romanticized as something otherworldly, its physical manifestation is very real.
At its most basic level, when we feel love the neurotransmitter dopamine is released. As it flows to other neurons in different parts of the brain, the rest of our body is given cause to act. Creating both positive feelings and longing smiles, racing hearts and misty eyes. The beauty of love and the brain is that the deeper the love, the more memories, connections and cues we can call or stumble upon that will spark that dopamine rush – even twenty years after we last saw someone alive.
Every picture, story, place that we shared with someone comes rushing back to us in a way that is absolutely real and alive within us at that moment.
When William and Harry recounted memories of their mom is was not of princely presents or extravagant experiences but of tiny moments spent giggling or talking. Or quietly observing the sacrifices she made for them and others.
It has become a little too easy to get our dopamine fixes from places other than love.
Every time our phone tells us there is a new message – a little rush. Sitting down to watch a new Game of Thrones episode, a little rush. Buying something new, a little rush. These are fine and harmless in moderation. But collectively can become an onslaught of transactional and ephemeral experiences that in the end matter little to how we lived or will be remembered.
Make someone feel loved today. Who knows, that feeling may last forever.