When I was three and twenty
I thought I knew everything that mattered
It didn't matter that I could not find
"The value of x in an angle,"
As long as I knew who mattered in a love-triangle.
Friends came to me for advice,
I listened; I counseled
And thought I was wiser than my folks,
Who could not understand how young people thought and loved.
A score and more have passed,
And now I can find
The value of x in an angle, even in a circle!
I have learned more about the world than I did
When I was three and twenty.
But then I have also found
How cocky I was at twenty-three
Giving advice that now seem silly,
Thinking I knew better than the elderly
Whose wisdom I now think to be sound.
Strength, wisdom, kindness —
They can only come to one
Who knows quietude.
Now that I’m back home in the house where I grew up, and living with my two sisters and a nephew and my son, it is not very often that I get to find some quiet time.
I am way busier now working from home compared to working full time in China during the last 17 years, which makes me treasure more those years of solitude and reflection.
Thankfully there’s gardening and visiting my tiny garden in the morning allows me some much needed quiet moments.
The title of this post is in quotation marks because it’s a reference to Queen’s song of the same title. I was reminded of this song after I finished reading Balzac’s Father Goriot, which is such a tragic novel about a man who had spoiled his beautiful daughters, sacrificed himself for them but whom he didn’t get to even see before he died.
M. Goriot’s mistake was loving his daughters too much that he forgot to teach them what they needed to learn to be able to live independently. Perhaps his spoiling them was his way of making himself feel needed by his children for the rest of his life. And that he surely got from them — they needed and got his money until he was left with nothing except for the rags he was wearing.
One of his daughter’s, Anastasie, also made the same mistake in loving a man (not her husband) who made her happy but who was only using her to support his gambling. She gave up everything — husband, children, father, her reputation for this lover who only loved her for her money.
In a lecture by the neuroscientist, Vilayanur Ramachandran, he talks about a hypothetical situation where he, in his capacity as a neuroscientist, shows a woman the brain scan of a man who is supposed to be in love with her and which parts of the brain are activated. The woman says, “My God! Is that all? It’s all a bunch of chemicals?” Ramanchadran advises the young man to say, “My dear, this proves it’s all real. I really am in love with you. I’m not faking it….”
Now that we know that “love” is all a bunch of chemicals, we ought to be more careful about how it controls us.
If we are aware of how our bodies are reacting to the presence of another person, and we think it is “love,” we ought to ask ourselves if this “love” is right or wrong for us and the person we “love.” If it’s only “good” for our bodies, I don’t think it’s wise to simply give in. (My friend would say, “Jeez, just don’t think!” But I say, YOU HAVE TO THINK!)
Be it romantic love or fraternal love or paternal love, our actions should be guided by reason not just by what our bodies tell us. I know sometimes it’s easier said than done, but at least we can try.
Don’t let love kill you.😇