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The Things Called Love

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Science is discovering that we share many kinds of love, but they all share roots in an unopenable black box called the limbic brain. Coming to understand what we may never understand about ourselves may allow us to forgive our failures... and to become more loving.

This article appeared in the Fall 2000 issue of Spirituality & Health. Hand Painted on the back of Liesl’s white rowing-crew tank top is a bright red X and the words “Darci focus here!” On the front of the shirt, also in red with gold sparkles, is written: “Can’t wait ’til May.” Liesl herself is cute and bubbly enough to have been cast in The Sound of Music. She’s also sixteen (sing it with me...) going on seventeen. And suspended more or less midway between those two mysterious slogans — the words on the front and the words on the back of the shirt — is Liesl’s heart. Trouble is brewing. Even without knowing what the words on the shirt mean, you feel it! Right? (Okay, I didn’t either. Not at first. Let me explain.) Liesl is the “stroke,” the lead rower, of the varsity, eight-girl crew that I coach at Ashland High School in Oregon. Darci rows in the seven seat, right behind Liesl. The two girls are close, if not best, friends. Darci also has a red X on the back of her tank top where rower number six, Joren, is supposed to focus. Joren’s shirt in turn has an X for her best frien …

Stephen Kiesling is a former Olympic rower, cocreator of the Nike Cross Training System, and editor at large of Spirituality & Health. A 35th anniversary edition of The Shell Game: Reflections on Rowing and the Pursuit of Excellence has just been published.


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