There are only four things in life worth chasing:

Serotonin, Dopamine, Endorphins and Oxytocin.

Belonging. Reward. Achievement. Trust. Release. Butterflies in the stomach. Warm blankets. Enveloping hugs.


Every feeling worth having is borne upon the backs of those little molecules of the Pleasure Quartet.

We’re all addicts, because to be otherwise would be to be inhuman, or no kind of human worth being.

Read more – Pakistani Love: They wanted to dream

We throw ourselves off cliffs with oversized rubber bands attached to our waists, we bankrupt ourselves in games of chance and dice hoping for that jackpot cascade, we consume drugs of every size, shape and nature, hoping for the magical brain-fairies to work their happy wonders. (Or so I hear).

Of these intoxicants, the most widespread, arguably most dangerous, certainly most sung-about (followed closely by heroin) is love.

And like all intoxicants, it comes in a great many shapes and forms and ingenious varieties.

That special burst of laughter that signals the moment you become inseparable friends. The nearly imperceptible but utterly unmissable flush on a cheek before a kiss. The soft shrinking of the world to a warm room with the sounds of rain outside. The sudden relief in the eyes of someone who’s been waiting to see you – a partner, a parent, a pet.

Most of us try to fill our lives with people that pour us some combination of the Pleasure Quartet, whether we know it or not.

And if you stumble into someone who inspires all four? It hits your brain like a cocktail stirred by lightning.

There are a great many experiences that can be called “love”, just as there are a great many experiences that can be called, say, “sadness”.

But there are times where you feel something with such an outsize intensity that it can hardly be called the same emotion. A Black Swan that, by its appearance, upends your idea of the world because heretofore you had never believed such a thing possible.

Read more – Pakistani Love: The Story of Survivors

For me, love was a pleasant, powerful but ultimately controllable phenomenon. I cherished it in all its forms, and it was worth chasing and worth mourning, but never more.

My wife’s appearance in my life and impact on my idea of love was not just a Black Swan, it was a Black Ship like those that had steamed up to the bay of Edo in Japan, changing in an instant – and forever – how they saw the world.

She would laugh and the sun would rise in her eyes and the world would lose its weight.  

She dared me to chase her, with a look and a raised eyebrow, as she drove off into a night full of stars.

She dismantled a wayward motorcyclist with linguistic savagery that would have made Shelly proud and sailors blush. Not coincidentally, that was the day I decided to marry her.

None of this, most likely, means anything to you. It’s not supposed to.

The Pleasure Quartet is True with a capital T whereas love, like art, is subjective. No two people experience it quite the same way.

For some people, that intensity of feeling, that lightning cocktail, comes packaged within one person.

For others, it comes from success, children, friends, meditating in the mountains – whatever. I promise you, where the Four Ingredients come from isn’t nearly as important as finding them. 

Life is short. Don’t spend it agonizing over what SHOULD make you feel a certain way, find out what DOES.

And if you find all the passions of your life to be pleasant, powerful yet ultimately controllable, pray for a Black Ship.