Marriage is Creation

Louise Hourihan Hi-Res (14 of 104)

Lifestyle for sale!

We grow up hearing the Hollywood Fairy Tale which brings a relationship to the point were the hero and heroine unite at last, true love triumphs, barriers to happiness are removed, a marriage ensues and …… they all live happily ever after.

But that is not reality.  In real life the wedding ceremony is only a beginning.  People who see their “perfect day” as some kind of ending to be enshrined and treasured forever are fated to be disappointed.

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 promises of eternal passion, it is not the desire to mate every second minute of the day, it is not lying awake at night imagining that he is kissing every cranny of your body. No, don’t blush, I am telling you some truths. 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.”                  from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Berniéres

This entwining of roots is an interesting metaphor.  From the day of the wedding we begin a long journey of co-creation.  We create the partnership and to a great extent we create the person that our partner becomes, and they have a heavy hand in creating the person we become.

Every day in every act and interaction we give each other tiny permissions, approvals, disapprovals, censures etc.  We validate certain behaviour patterns with our permissions and we invalidate others with our refusals.  As the years go by we settle into these patterns like the couple on the beach in Beckett’s play “Happy Days” who settle deeper and deeper into the sand of their routine.

So think about this;  If you get 40 years into a marriage and you find you can’t stand your partner just think about the fact that this is a person you created.  You are rejecting the very thing you have had a strong influence in building.  What does this say about your feelings for the person you are?

If on the other hand you are lucky enough to have a marriage that deepens in love and mutual respect then well done and give yourself a pat on the back.

The house above is our current home and we have it up for sale.  It is a home where my wife has deep roots, her Grandmother was born here.  The DNA of her extended family is woven into the very fabric of the building.  While I have had a role in creating the person Louise is today there is no doubting that this house, this land, these fields and streams had a role in creating her too.  Never have I felt more like Thomas Kinsella than in this house.

P.S. If you want to buy my lifestyle it’s for sale here:  Ballykelly


Another September: by Thomas Kinsella

Dreams fled away, this country bedroom, raw
with the touch of the dawn, wrapped in a minor peace,
hears through an open window the garden draw
long pitch black breaths, lay bare its apple trees,
ripe pear trees, brambles, windfall-sweetened soil,
exhale rough sweetness against the starry slates.
Nearer the river sleeps St. John’s, all toil
locked fast inside a dream with iron gates.

Domestic Autumn, like an animal
long used to handling by those countrymen,
rubs her kind hide against the bedroom wall
sensing a fragrant child come back again
– not this half-tolerated consciousness
that plants its grammar in her yielding weather
but that unspeaking daughter, growing less
familiar where we fell asleep together.

Wakeful moth wings blunder near a chair,
toss their light shell at the glass, and go
to inhabit the living starlight. Stranded hair
stirs on still linen. It is as though
the black breathing that billows her sleep, her name,
drugged under judgement, waned and – bearing daggers
and balances – down the lampless darkness they came,
moving like women : Justice, Truth, such figures.

Happy Birthday William Blake


Born this day 1757.

The Clod and the Pebble; by William Blake

“Love seeketh not itself to please,
nor for itself hath any care,
but for another gives its ease,
and builds a Heaven in Hell’s despair.”

So sung a little Clod of Clay
trodden with the cattle’s feet,
but a Pebble of the brook
warbled out these metres meet:

“Love seeketh only self to please,
to bind another to its delight,
joys in another’s loss of ease,
and builds a Hell in Heaven’s despite.”

What is Love?

I was watching the excellent BBC drama “River” last night.  The protagonist made the point that English has only one word for “Love” but that there are many different kinds of love in the world.  And he is right.  If you want words to describe Snow you speak to Inuit or Greenlanders.  If you want words to describe Rain you can’t get a better language than Gaelic, the Irish and Scots know all about rain in its many guises.

If you want words to describe Love then you could do worse than to go to Greece.  At a quick glance I found at least 7 different Greek words to describe love.

1. Sexual passion
The first kind of love, Eros, is named for the Greek god of fertility. It represents sexual desire and is the source of the word “Erotic”. The ancient Greeks didn’t think of this in a positive way as we do. Eros was seen as dangerous, a fiery irrational state of mind, a form of temporary madness.
Eros involves a loss of self-control that ran counter to Greek philosophy on what constituted a healthy psyche. In modern society we still speak about falling “madly” in love and sex is now recognised as a form of addiction.

2. Friendly love
The second variety of love was philia or friendship, which the Greeks valued far more than the base sexuality of Eros. Philia concerns deep comradely friendship that develops between brothers in arms on the battlefield, public schoolboys etc. It is about closeness and loyalty to your friends.
From the Greek root Philia we get many words about the love of people and things, Philadelphia, Paedophilia, Necrophilia etc.

3. Family Love
Similar to Philia but related to the family rather than friends, Storge embodies the love between Parents and Children. We may choose our friends but we are born to our family. Storge embodies duties of responsibility and care, both from parents to helpless children and later in life from children to ageing parents. One of the great crimes (both secular and religious) in the ancient world was breach of Storge. This was the fate of Oedipus who inadvertently fell erotically in love with his Mother and killed his natural Father.

4. Playful love
Ludus was the Greeks’ idea of playful love, which referred to the harmless affection between children or young lovers. What we may call “Puppy Love” or a “Crush”.
Flirting is a form of Ludus. Dancing with strangers may be the ultimate ludic activity, almost a playful substitute for sex itself. Social norms in many conservative countries frown on this kind of adult frivolity, especially in the Islamic world.

5. Selfless love
The love for “everything” is agape or selfless love. This is love that you extend to all people, whether family members or distant strangers. Agape was later translated into Latin as caritas, which is the origin of our word “charity” and is the highest form of Christian love. It is the love that drives benevolence, volunteering and the best acts of humans.

6. Pragmatic love
Mature love was known to the Greeks as pragma. This was the deep understanding that developed between long-married couples. No surprise that it is the root of the word “pragmatism”. Pragma is about making compromises to help the relationship work over time by showing empathy, patience and tolerance.
Pragma is explained beautifully in “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin” as follows:
“Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become 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 promises of eternal passion. That is just being “in love” which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Your mother and I had it, we had roots that grew towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossom had fallen from our branches we found that we were one tree and not two.”

7. Self-love
The ancient Greeks called it philautia. They realized there were two types. One is unhealthy, narcissistic, self-obsessed and focused on personal fame and fortune. The healthier version is a strong awareness and appreciation of the self which enhances your wider capacity to love others. It is the self-confidence without the cockiness that we all hope to instil in our teenagers.
The idea is that if you like yourself and feel secure in yourself, you will have plenty of love to give others. It is about looking at yourself in a mirror and saying “I am great, I am worthy of my love, I am worthy of the love of others.”

8.  Patriotism

From the Greek “Patris” which means “fatherland” we get love of our homeland (we Irish never stop singing about that one) which can be bonding or it can be maudlin.  Patriotism has both positive and negative connotations.  It can lead to xenophobia, intolerance, bias, racism, arrogance and a lot of other nasty closed mindedness.  At the same time it gives us the desire to wear our colours and sing our hearts out with total strangers on the terraces next Sunday when we play Argentina!

Fixed V boundless

Francis Swaine:  HMS Flora crossing with a Schooner

Francis Swaine: HMS Flora crossing with a Schooner

My mother likes to tell the story of the time my oldest brother got a new bike.  Someone was playing with his pump and he told them to stop because they would “use it up” as though the pump contained a limited supply of air, or a fixed allocation of uses.

Some things are fixed and others are boundless.  What I mean by this is that certain things have a limit to them while others are quite without limits.

In the poem below Shakespeare talks of things we once thought of as boundless but now know to have fixed limits.  The “soundless deep” has a bottom and we can now measure it.  The “broad main” of Shakespeare’s day conjured up images of an undiscovered ocean, new lands and no limits.  Today our world is a smaller place by far and every ocean is fenced in by well established borders.

Our entire planet comes with limits.  If we don’t respect those limits then there will be no long term future for mankind.  There are too many humans on the planet and we are pushing the environment to its limit with our consumption.  If mankind does not plan and implement a sustainable relationship with the Earth then the future will belong to some later evolution.

If you want to try to use things up have a go at using up things that are truly boundless and are also positive.  Try to use up all your smiles and your laughs.  Try to use up all the compliments you can think of by giving them away to others.  Use up your love, kindness and generosity.  Use up all the music and dance in the world.  Use up the sunrises and the sunsets, watch every one of them.

Try to avoid using up all your frowns, harsh words and criticisms of others.  Save them up in case you need them in the future.

Sonnet LXXX; William Shakespeare

O! how I faint when I of you do write,
Knowing a better spirit doth use your name,
And in the praise thereof spends all his might,
To make me tongue-tied speaking of your fame.
But since your worth, wide as the ocean is,
The humble as the proudest sail doth bear,
My saucy bark, inferior far to his,
On your broad main doth wilfully appear.
Your shallowest help will hold me up afloat,
Whilst he upon your soundless deep doth ride;
Or, being wracked, I am a worthless boat,
He of tall building, and of goodly pride:
Then if he thrive and I be cast away,
The worst was this, my love was my decay.

Love is a thief


Casual words exchanged

mingled with general banter,

each a baited hook.


Fleeting glances risked

in the constant movement,

each a loving look.


Rubbing shoulders lightly

in passing closely,

risking something more.


My skin aches to touch you

awareness excited

in every pore.


Despairing of the situation

I ask how love can thrive

with these complications.


Venus came to me to ease my torment.

“My son is a thief” she said,

“He lives on stolen moments.”


Copyright D. Clancy (1987)

A love song……sort of.

My darling (but may I call her darling?

This may be too forward.)

I beg to ask a question, (if you will

permit me the liberty to beg aught of you.)

My heart is wrought and strained

and pushed to breaking point,

I know not how to phrase it.

I’m clearly out of joint

over the whole affaire.

I fear that I am treading

over stony ground

but ask I must if this

be resolved between us.

And between us it must be!

But let me be more bold

and stop beating around

the proverbial bush.

Let me say it straight

and straight it is

as well you see.

Well, here it is!

Shall I use a red stripe

or will a durex do?

That’s fine my dear

I’ll fit it on

within the loo.

Copyright D. Clancy (1987)

The danger of maps

Here is an interesting link:  A Map of who loves who and who hates who in the Middle East

It is interactive so you can select an origin country or group and see just the relations for them.  It is probably very subjective.  After all, who has the knowledge to decode the truth of such relationships in the real world?

Maps are a form of communication.  Whenever you look at a map you should ask some critical questions about it.  “Don’t be silly” you say, “a map is simply a depiction of how the world looks”.  I say to you “Ask who drew the map, and why?”

Go to any city and pick up a local free tourist map.  It is selling you a product, which has been designed and packaged for you by a small group of people.  Your tourist trail is their agenda.

But you laugh at me because you are too modern for that.  You don’t use “tourist maps”.  You use modern technology.  As you scan the map to your destination on your tablet or smartphone who is collecting your data and what are they doing with it?  What information are they giving you?

The guys who drew the tourist map are fairly overt.  At least I know what their job is.  Think I’m being paranoid?  Just wait.  One of these days the Secret Service or MI5 or CIA or FBI or Hamas or Hezbollah or ISIS or the Mafia or the secret league of the sisters of the golden peony will take control of the technology for just a few moments.  You will input your destination.  They will give you a nice little map and it will lead you directly into their clutches.  You may lose your money, your voice, your freedom or your life.

You have been warned.

Emotion Capture

Echo and Narcissus

Echo & Narcissus by John Williams Waterhouse

Art is the pure expression of emotion.  It is the struggle by the artist to take the pure emotion that they experience in their head, their heart, the feeling in their bones, the sense in the pit of their stomach, and to wrestle this jumble of sensory experience into another medium.  Poets wrestle with words, painters bleed their hearts onto canvas, sculptors hack emotions, by splinter and shard, from blocks of wood and marble.

Then fools like me can take these works of art, and can use them as a means to frame our own feelings.  Art acts as a confessional, a psychiatrist, a therapist, helping emotionally stilted mortals to feel.

So what emotions am I accessing with a pre-Raphaelite painting of Echo and Narcissus, and a poem about rediscovery of self love?  Answers on a postcard please to PO Box 55614, Metown, Myland.  First prize is a 1 week residential course in Self-Examination.  Second prize is a 2 week course.

Love After Love; by Derek Walcott

The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you have ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Mirror Mirror


Titian:  Venus with a mirror
As you trowel on the ol’ slap tonight in preparation for your big rosemantic night of the year, bear in mind that you are engaged in one of life’s key rituals. What BBDO call “Sexing Up” in their Ritual Masters study.

In MCCP we found that, for women anyway, the moment of truth, the key win of the night, the high point, is that final check in the mirror. You know that moment, in the hallway, the door is open, the taxi is waiting, you turn to the mirror and there you see her, your radiant self, the special you, gorgeous. Yes, you are worth it!

Most men don’t realise that this is make or break time. If the date with the mirror is good, the night is a hit. If the date with the mirror goes wrong the poor guy is left dazed and confused, wondering what he said that put her in the bad mood. Truth is he was never even in with a chance.

For many women a girls night out is far better than a date. You have the added benefits of getting ready together, helping each other to look good, going out with people who understand the trouble you have gone through to look this good. They have a clue about fashion too.

Preparation starts days before going out. Some call and talk about the evening ahead; teenage girls photo message pictures of their outfits for approval and reassurance. People eat and drink luxury foods, forget diets and treat themselves.

The music you listen to as you get ready has the power to put you in a certain mood. It’s amazing we have lots of “driving down the road” music compilations and “love” compilations, but wouldn’t it be great to have a “putting on the ritz” compilation record?

Lots of brands participate in the sexing up ritual, starting days in advance with restaurant and event bookings, clothes shopping, waxes, hair colours, plucking, exfoliating. On the day we have shaving of all sorts of body parts, men and women, tooth whitening, brushing, flossing. Makeup (insert tech piece here). Deodorant, anti-perspirant, spray on smelly stuff, nail varnish, eye drops, alcohol, over the counter drugs, recreational drugs, contraceptives etc etc. Sexing up is a brand marketing wet dream.

Bottom line: when “sexing up,” people are transforming from their normal to most confident selves. They use special products to make themselves feel special.

Was it better in the good old days, when a man could get by on his dreams?

HE wishes for the cloths of heaven: William Butler Yeats

HAD I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.