My weekly newspaper column. Thanks to Ben Naga for madness quote and David Kanigan for the “winter morning”:
Madness comes in many forms. One of them is love. But only love of a certain variety. I guess for lack of a better term, romantic love suffers from, nay, benefits from madness. It burns bright at the beginning, and though it wafts and wanes, sometimes it is snuffed out never to be seen again while at other times it reincarnates into something of almost concrete substance.
Love is such an esoteric subject. Mysterious to some, quite clear cut to others. Louis de Bernieres, a contemporary British author has a lovely definition of love—and in this quote he covers the subject quite thoroughly—from madness to its eventual durability:
“Love is a temporary madness; it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of eternal passion. That is just being in love, which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Those that truly love have roots that grow towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossoms have fallen from their branches, they find that they are one tree and not two.”
February, with Valentine’s Day almost smack-dab in its middle (“almost” because this year is a leap year) is the month known for love. I would argue that love in its many forms should be recognized. Even romantic love that goes astray, because what was once is still a reality, never to be truly forgotten. de Bernieres believes that “any fool can” be in love but “love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away.” I agree with him that love, in its best form is both “an art and a fortunate accident.”
Love has many facets, and though its romantic muse may be Cupid, the depth and width and plumb of it is immeasurable. True love though does not always have to withstand the test of time—I believe that you can truly be in love—for a while. What too many do not realize is that even though they may fall out of love, what they had once was something not to be dismissed. Idealistically true love lasts; realistically, not always.
I am of course, idealistic. And as luck would have it (knock on wood) I have been fortunate enough to have withstood “being in love” and moved on to what de Bernieres describes as being “one tree and not two.” But I would argue that there are many branches to that “one tree”; and some of the branches are independent of the others. A romantic I may be, a fool I am not. (I know this is up to interpretation, but hey, this is my column.)
So, enough of this touchy-feely stuff for now, we will move on to another favourite quote of mine, which deals with the love of the small things in life. It is an observation by Ted Kooser, titled “A Winter Morning” from his book Delights and Shadows”:
“A farmhouse window far back from the highway
speaks to the darkness in a small, sure voice.
Against this stillness, only a kettle’s whisper,
and against the starry cold, one small blue ring of flame.”
His poetic rendering embodies warmth and coziness on a winter’s day. And this being February, we need the “small blue ring of flame” to douse our mid-winter doldrums. A cup of something steaming served up from a whispering kettle is the perfect antidote to the cold and damp.
What is your preferred cup of something steaming?