Yesterday I went for a walk, bought a coffee and sat on a bench by the sea. I thought about the tide and love and gravity and the little dogs running about on the beach. I thought about reality and the illusion of reality. This is not a total cliche when you are 39 years old and squashy.
What I determined, in all these thoughts, was that there are real, solid, permanent loves that affect you invisibly, like the pull of the moon upon the tides, and there are the little crushes, little infatuations that make us run hither and thither like the little dogs on the beach. The solid loves look dull but are as terrible as the grave, and the little crushes look exciting but are basically trivial in themselves.
Crushes are like matches. If you're playing with matches, you light one, it looks pretty, and then it goes out. Sometimes a match lights a warming fire, which is marriage, but unfortunately sometimes it burns down the house, which is your crush ruining your life and perhaps the lives of other people, too. However, both things take fuel. Again, a match on its own is pretty trivial.
Family love is like the moon in that it certainly has an invisible pull and it can seem terrible (terrible as an army with banners) at times. We spend our lives arguing internally with our parents and perhaps also with our brothers, sisters, and children. Families speak languages that no-one else can understand and have dynamics that outsiders cannot see. People panic as they hear themselves sound increasingly like their parents: despite all their attempts to escape mom and dad they find out that, to a certain extent, they are mom and dad.
Family love is the cradle for married love, which also has an invisible pull and can also seem terrible (terrible as an army with banners) at times. It is not the same thing as romantic love; romantic love is its rebellious servant. Married love is as wonderful and terrible as love of one's mother. Incidentally, about 70% of all divorce actions in Scotland are at the instance of wives. Elderly widows, as we know, usually survive widowhood for decades. Elderly widowers usually keel over within a year. Men, often so reluctant to marry, are equally reluctant to allow marriage to stop.
I doubt I'm ever going to blog much on marriage. B.A. is the most patient, tolerant chap alive, and I don't want to take advantage. But I will say that there are terrible moments in which I have to choose between "Non Serviam" and "Serviam" and grace alone gets me to choke out the latter. And no doubt B.A. experiences the same.
Friend love can also exert its pull and be terrible (terrible as an army with banners). However, such friendships are rare--except, and I am guessing, inwar zones, where soldiers put themselves in serious danger ultimately because of their buddies. Women are used to seeing our good friends suffer, and we bring them soup, perhaps, and sometimes we talk about them behind their backs and say "Isn't it a shame?" and "If only she wouldn't bring it on herself!", but sometimes we suffer agonies because our best friend is suffering agonies. We can't even talk about it. At such times, friendship isn't fun, and we're back to the choice between "Serviam" and "Non Serviam."
Then there is romance and flirting and crushes and wit, and these are all very nice, when you don't allow them to muck up your life, but they are really secondary. I wonder, though, if love of romance isn't the biggest marriage killer out there. Men don't read romance novels. Women read romance novels and, in Scotland, 70% of divorce actions are... you know.
But I like romance, just as I like the little dogs that run around on the beach, and I like flirting and crushes and wit. Like novels and paintings they add not a little colour to the strong outlines of life. But in the grander scheme of things, they are just human inventions. They don't really matter. What really matters is family love, married love, friend love and, of course, the love of God, which is truly, truly terrible (terrible as an army with banners) indeed.