Today’s blog-post is going to be slightly out of blogging character for me. Well, in the sense that I don’t often unveil amorous secrets behind the curtains of the Professor’s heart, today I am sharing a portion of my private, romantic, sentimental side. WARNING! For any Alpha-hyped He-Man reading this, if you have aversions to being swept away in passion and raptured in the moment, then look away! Read no further! This will not be your pitcher or keg of beer. Sorry mate. No bowed-up pectorals or brawling here.
It may or may not come as a surprise to some of you who follow my blog that I am a sucker for serendipitous enchantment on matters of the heart. If this beguiling moment includes windows of history, windows I’ve been enamored by since I was a boy, then just count to three and ring the bell because I am out, done, a goner. I will be so lost you’d think I was hypnotized or lobotomized. Add aspects of time-travel in the story and like Richard Collier, I will never return. Yes, with hands in the air I confess; my propensity for moments when time stands still is my kryptonite.
Who is Richard Collier you ask?
Funny you are wondering. Elise asked the same question, sort of, and she could barely take a breath waiting for the answer. But I will come back to this moment in time a bit later, hah, apropos teaser intended. What I want to first spill is how our long-awaited family trip unexpectedly came about.
For over two years Mom has been itching to travel somewhere. For several years she has yearned to see Australia and her Great Barrier Reef. This has been a long-time dream of hers and her closest sister, her now late sister, unfortunately. Recently though if it was with her domestic partner, or a close friend, or with me and my sister, it didn’t matter. She’s wanted to go before it’s too late, at her advancing age, and medical issues make it impractical. The last three years she has been reminding us how thrilled she’d be to go and experience another part of the world, somewhere, anywhere she hadn’t experienced.
Lately we’ve been pummeled, so to speak, with her getaway-gestures every month, if not every week. The getaway bug-n-itch had had a grip on Mom for some time. I’d say it no longer itched, it turned into a damn rash! Her pleading was unrelenting sometimes! Yep, Mom’s former years as an Eastern Airlines flight attendant (above image) had been reenergized with a vengeance! Mom was once an Eastern Airlines Flight-attendant in 1958–1962, based out of LGA, JFK, and EWR, New York and New Jersey respectively. She wanted to fly a lot longer, but a special surprise from her then boyfriend (my father) stopped those plans after their very “romantic weekend” in San Antonio, TX in the former Robert E. Lee Hotel downtown. But I am rambling and digressing; apologies. Back to our story.
For years we had been tossing around destinations, but never made a final decision. Then came the COVID-19 pandemic along with the predictable outcomes and repercussions the last two-plus years. Pfft, no more elaboration needed on that world catastrophe.
Moving on. Fast-forward now to February 2021, but skipping over our two hellacious winter storms that came within a few hours of wiping out Texas’ entire electrical grid for a long, long, very long time.
With mass production of Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, etc, vaccines finally rolling out once competent federal leadership in D.C. took office January 20th, followed by mass distribution scaled much higher and wider than the previous Administration ever cared to do, getting the vaccines into cold-storage, out to sites, and proper staff to stick Americans twice, our family getaway was back on and indeed probable. Hold your horses cowboys and cowgirls! Now comes a number of new stumbling blocks. I had the honor and privilege to temper Mom’s jet-setting excitement, if that was even possible.
I explained to her and sister that if we were going to make this dream-trip happen and safely, our first major hurdle was going to be full vaccinations for all three of us, in a timely immediate manner at that. Easy? No, not really. In fact, I thought I might have to persuade Mom to postpone our excursion for another year—ugh, after having just done that in 2020 due to the pandemic. Moreover, I knew how formidable it was going to be to motivate my sister to get fully vaccinated soon. I would have to hound her even more than I was already doing! Mom and I have received both our shots, my sister received her second shot this past week. Done! First couple of hurdles behind us.
Skipping back a month, when the three of us were able to finally coincide our three different schedules/calendars and meet for a weekend in mid-April 2021, we toss about places such as the Grand Canyon National Park, Glacier National Park, Sequoia National Park, Gatlinburg, Colorado Springs, Nags Head North Carolina, Portland in Oregon, The Finger Lakes in Upstate New York, and Augusta, Maine. Then I threw into the pile of possible destinations, one of my personal wishes: Mackinac Island and the Grand Hotel. To my dismay my sister and Mom became very intrigued. Mom was immediately sold on the Lilac Festival and the Butterfly House & Insect World, and my sister to the fact that it was an island completely unlike a hectic 21st-century tourist bee-hive rat-race with way too many rude people scurrying by you and over you. After all, she did suffer from panic-anxiety attacks easily triggered by too much perceived chaos. My sister is also an artist and art fan. She still paints when time allows. Mackinac Island has a sizable artsy twist as well, with art shops and an art museum. It seemed I had hit a homerun with my longstanding longshot, teenage dream destination! They had all sorts of questions. They wondered too how I even knew about this island lost in a bygone era. Answering their curiosity, I return to the beginning of this blog-post.
I admitted to them that I have always had a weakness for serendipitous romance, history, the Victorian-Edwardian Eras, and a very soft spot for time-travel stories, books, and films. Re-enter Richard Collier and Elise McKenna:
“Is it you?” Woah, I get goose-bumps every time I watch that scene because of what Richard Collier went through to get there with Elise. This 1980 cult-classic “Somewhere In Time” was filmed on Mackinac Island, Michigan because the Grand Hotel and island’s Tourism Bureau vowed to freeze time and banned all modern, polluting, combustible-engine vehicles as well as other “modern” developed fossil-burning machines in order to preserve its uniquely vintage history—its Victorian-Edwardian Age on Lake Huron. There is no other island like it within the United States proper. The island is seemingly and delightfully stuck in time. Needless to say, I was and I am beyond myself, ecstatic to be traveling there with Mom and sister in just a few weeks.
If any of you are unfamiliar with the timelessness of Mackinac Island, MI, then I give you a quick photo-montage (below) followed by a link to the island’s Bureau of Tourism. I hope you too can see why I have always held a special place in my heart for this island… lost Somewhere In A Time not so long ago when finer things in life were patiently appreciated, savored, sought, enamoring, and embraced. I start with images from the movie with Jane Seymour and Christopher Reeve at the Grand Hotel. Following those images are current photos of the small Victorian-Edwardian town, popular sites like the Butterfly House & Insect World—the place where Mom and sister will spend many hours—tea houses out on grand patios, Al fresco dining spots, Fort Mackinac where I plan to visit, and one location Mom and I plan to lounge many times: the Grand Audubon Wine Bar.
Should you be interested in more details and information about this incredible island, visit the Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau. There you can also view online their 72-page guidebook which introduces you to the island’s historic splendor.
We will return home after eight nights and nine days there. Travel will take two half-days. I do hope to bring back with me many photos of our getaway on Mackinac Island. This might be my last blog-post until then, after we return to Austin, TX, then I back up to Dallas. In the meantime, the anticipation is mounting, ugh, as if time is slowing down. Imagine what time will be when we are there!
Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always
Thursday, Nov. 12th, Qin and I took a much needed morning and afternoon to stroll lazily through the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden. We did strictly observe, of course, all necessary COVID-19 protocols for health and safety, not just for ourselves, but for all other park guests as well. It was tricky sometimes to keep 6-8 feet away on a few narrow bridges and pathways, but we did the best we could. Yes, there were a couple of occasions where other park guests were oblivious to how exactly 6-feet measures out—they seemed to ridiculously think it was 2-3 feet—and two park workers who thought it was 1-2 feet and supposedly no mask was required for one grounds-keeper. Hence, due to continued negligence by others our visit was not entirely tranquil nor altogether safe.
If the park wants to stay open for reasons of profit and revenues, then its authorities really must employ a regiment of security-like roaming guards monitoring guests’ compliance to safety measures. I am also quiet sure the 66-acre park (0.267 sq. km) allowed too many paying guests inside. This was hugely disappointing and shocking. I guess it doesn’t matter because over 73.6 million Americans voted Nov. 3rd for an incumbent of sheer ignorance, sheer denial, and subhuman wanting more and more needless deaths. But enough talk about our out-of-control pandemic and suffering; unimportant right? 😟 Let’s move on to the beauty and splendor of our planet and these botanical gardens shall we.
Qin and I brought along a cooler of Fuji apple slices and fresh-cut pineapple wedges for a noonday snack. Qin toted her thermos of freshly boiled (sterilized) water—a lifelong habit she formed when growing up and living in China. Not that she needs to do it in Dallas, but it’s a habit of comfort for her. I don’t mind. I find it exceedingly safe and charming. 😋
When we reached our designated parking lot and Gate-number, showed our prearranged, electronic time-slot admission receipt, we began the morning stroll and tour of this award-winning Arboretum. It would be a 4-hour respite from 12-days of self-appointed “Stay Home” orders, not to mention for the sake of our mental well-being on top of 10-months plus COVID-19 fatigue. We began at the organic restaurant A Tasteful Place, The Edible Verdant and Scenic Overlook (see below).
As we wound our way out and to the three nearby large lawns and beds of the Jonsson Color Gardens, a challenge was made. We both agreed to have a photo competition: Who could capture on our phones the best images and videos of our Arboretum Day. We wanted you readers to vote on the five images you like most. But before I get to those photos, I created a 6-minute video highlight of our day:
Making our way to the second lawn and bed Qin takes a cozy sit next to William Shakespeare on his bronze writing bench, “你好，威利。” (Nǐ hǎo, wēi lì. or Hello Willy). With a stiff grin and the usual iambic pentameter Willy answers:
That time of year thou mayst in me behold When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang Upon those boughs which shake against the cold, Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
William Shakespeare – Sonnet 73
Ladies and Gents, time for the contest and collection of images we captured. Now here’s the rub. We have a total of 29 images. Obviously, I could not put each photo into the post-content; your loading time for the page probably would’ve lasted a snail’s pace 5-7 minutes depending on your connection, right? I did not want to torture you all. 😉 If I had tortured you that way, then you could’ve just clicked on a “Thumbs up” button “👍” on each photo to vote on your favorite fiveimages. That would’ve been most convenient for voting, I know. But I had to make a choice: A)torture all of you with a slow page-loading time, or B)fast page-load, jot down your favorite five photos, and put them in your comment at the bottom. I went with the latter. I hope you agree with my decision.
Therefore, as you are going through the images below, at the bottom-left is the photo number, e.g. #1, #9, and so on. Make a note of the number, collect your FIVE (5) favorites, and leave a comment at the bottom with your selections. After a few weeks, with your help, we’ll see who wins the photo challenge, Qin or me, the Professor. At that time I’ll post and reply to all you wonderful participants as to who won the Fall Day at the Arboretum Contest. Good? Good. Thank you for your understanding! Now, off you go with your votes please!
Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always — Wear A Mask!
As a boy in primary school I was always fascinated and attracted to rhythms, beating tempos, and the various mixtures of independent rhythms into a harmonious grand production. To me there was endless possibilities of creating ensembles from endless particulars. Take this one unique rhythm, join it with another, then another, and so on until they all become a masterpiece. And so for the following years of my youth I wanted to be a drummer, a Maestro of metre, a Captain of cadence and Lord of the Skins. Doing just that was like a drug to me. Doing it with other drummers was the ultimate high. I miss it. I miss it terribly, especially the comradery and connecting syncopated souls. Today, that longing has another meaning.
During this time leading up to what is surely going to be a monumental, make-or-break election that determines whether the USA collapses in on itself in more strife and division, or it makes a turn for healing, for recovery—recovery across ALL sections of our society, economy, and government. In that spirit I want to offer a great example of sublime, supreme teamwork, incredible commitment to perfecting their art and discipline to THE WHOLE and to each other. It’s not just to self, or one or two sectors or class of people, but it’s to clear syncopation and united, of being on the same exact tempo, and thus performing as one with many. “E pluribus unum.” With many hardworking, unique parts contributing to a final product of sheer beauty, awe, exquisite precision, and collaboration by every single member.
I give you Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Corps of Drums and the Swiss Top Secret Drum Corps performing not opposed, but together as one. Something our U.S. government, White House and officials should learn and behave accordingly for ALLAmericans. Crank up your volume if you feel so inclined and send a signal you want beaten in to some thick skulls on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington D.C. 😉
Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always — Come Together/Vote
It has been a hard, long road of COVID-19 social-distancing, or as I sometimes call it: healthy anti-socializing. Leave public health and safety up to the masses, the general public and things WILL breakdown. It will crumble. Many things breakdown when a free democratic society is forced to behave, conform, and be smart for the greater good.
#1 — Complicated phone conversations — Try having a conversation with your significant other on your phone about 4-5 specific items on your shopping list, in a noisy supermarket, through your N95 mask. Broke.
#2 — Have said broken phone convo while in the middle of the 5-ft wide Female Bodycare aisle trapped by a couple on one end waiting on you to move… and a store clerk unpacking boxes at the other end! Mexican standoff. Headed to broke.
#3 — When I finally got out the door of the very busy supermarket I was super primed for solo alone time! Not good! That’s broke. We are meant to be with others. We are a gregarious primate creature! Needed prescription?
#4 — Go on a thrilling, circular, looping (loopy?) ride like NASCAR does jamming to your best aggressive, break-something, get-it-all-out, squirm-n-bounce dancing Playlist with all eight speakers bangin’ serious decibel levels so that no one will notice you! Que some of my kick-ass, COVID-apropos, sing-along tunes. Click Playthen sing and jam with me…
After about 1-hour of driving around outer Dallas, singing my vocal-chords out, unable to hear with my broken eardrums the broken world outside, I did feel much better, almost euphoric. It was invigorating! Why? Because this/me could be a lot worse. I mean, I still have rhythm, I can snap my fingers, beat the steering-wheel, I can feel my toes, my fingers, and some of the 2-3 silver hairs I have left on my head and neck, and my ticker and ticker-manager organs still function fairly normal.
At least I don’t have a broken cup and crazy disobedient balls that won’t stay put in this pandemic! STOP IT! Get your minds out of the gutter already! How many balls do you have in your cup? Lost any? How many marbles do you have left in your brain?
See, things aren’t so bad. To the best of my knowledge at least I haven’t started losing all my balls/marbles… poor kid.
Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always — Lose Some Balls
A friend who had grown up in a Far Eastern country told me the other day “I have never been in love. I do not know what love is.” She asked me if I knew it, had I experienced it. As I thought about how to describe it, I was hampered by some pity for her; many people I knew and dear friends and family knew of love, consuming love. But no one or my friend should ever go through life without loving and being loved passionately. Never! Why, why, WHY our obsession with either or!?
I was reminded by this classic story about love and its complications. You might remember the ancient story by a famous poet in a time long ago. For my allegorical blog-post here I begin in its third book toward the end, and continue, hopping forward, into the fourth:
A Laborious Stormy Life
“Here, after endless labours, often toss’d By raging storms, and driv’n on ev’ry coast, My dear, dear father, spent with age, I lost: Ease of my cares, and solace of my pain, Sav’d thro’ a thousand toils, but sav’d in vain The prophet, who my future woes reveal’d, Yet this, the greatest and the worst, conceal’d; And dire Celaeno, whose foreboding skill Denounc’d all else, was silent of the ill. This my last labour was. Some friendly god From thence convey’d us to your blest abode.”
But anxious cares already seiz’d the queen: She fed within her veins a flame unseen; The hero’s valour, acts, and birth inspire Her soul with love, and fan the secret fire. His words, his looks, imprinted in her heart, Improve the passion, and increase the smart.
Though the wayward, seafaring Prince of refuge had encountered many storms and had been thrown off course in his noble journey, he assured the beautiful Tyrian Queen his misfortune and delay was apparently quite fortuitous, nigh… serendipitous? The Queen was taken by this Trojan’s story, seized and smitten, swept by winds unknown, yet dripped with sweet intoxication.
Traps, Temptations and Diversions – Or Fate?
When next the Sun his rising light displays, And gilds the world below with purple rays, The queen, Aeneas, and the Tyrian court Shall to the shady woods, for sylvan game, resort. There, while the huntsmen pitch their toils around, And cheerful horns from side to side resound, A pitchy cloud shall cover all the plain With hail, and thunder, and tempestuous rain; The fearful train shall take their speedy flight, Dispers’d, and all involv’d in gloomy night; One cave a grateful shelter shall afford To the fair princess and the Trojan lord.
Fault Not the Forces of Storms, Satyr and Nymph
Meantime, the gath’ring clouds obscure the skies: From pole to pole the forky lightning flies; The rattling thunders roll; and Juno pours A wintry deluge down, and sounding show’rs. The company, dispers’d, to converts ride, And seek the homely cots, or mountain’s hollow side. The rapid rains, descending from the hills, To rolling torrents raise the creeping rills. The queen and prince, as love or fortune guides, One common cavern in her bosom hides. Then first the trembling earth the signal gave, And flashing fires enlighten all the cave; Hell from below, and Juno from above, And howling nymphs, were conscious of their love.
While her accidental guest from the sea leaves her arms to return to his men and army, Queen Dido cannot help but long for him and his return. For her, the official public vows of eternal love and marriage could not happen soon enough. She had fallen, hard, and floats head-over-heels. From that night forward there was no return to her previous life. In a near hypnotic trance she recalls their fiery night in the cave while storms raged. Fate had delivered a succulent honey-coated future together, forever squirming in gooey sloppy love. Everything she had ever hoped or dreamt awaited her and the Master of her heart Poseidon miraculously tossed onto her shores. Dido’s yearning is not unlike this modern song that ominously tells of nonstop, irrepressible passion and love:
But as the adage goes, all good things either change or come to an end.
As Pietas, Minerva and Athena before Her
The Gods and Goddesses are angry at Aeneas! They must remind the Trojan Prince he has a much bigger date with destiny and with glory of an empire. Duty, honor, and unwavering loyalty was most prized and sought by Greco-Roman culture, sometimes at the expense of beautifully simple things.
“DEGENERATE MAN, Thou woman’s property, what mak’st thou here, These foreign walls and Tyrian tow’rs to rear, Forgetful of thy own? All-pow’rful Jove, Who sways the world below and heav’n above, Has sent me down with this severe command: What means thy ling’ring in the Libyan land? If glory cannot move a mind so mean, Nor future praise from flitting pleasure wean, Regard the fortunes of thy rising heir: The promis’d crown let young Ascanius wear, To whom th’ Ausonian scepter, and the state Of Rome’s imperial name is ow’d by fate.”
Insatiable love, desire… or duty, honor, glory? One must choose principles or passion. You cannot have both. Surrender to irrationality or stay the course, stern and cold. Much of human history has taught us through myth, legend, and prose that we must always choose one or the other. In my life I have gone through this battle more times than I care to count. Now, well into the last half of my expected lifetime, I have only just learned and confirmed the last fifteen years… it is not either/or, one or the other. I ask when, in the history of humanity have we always been giddy and content with restraints, limits, injustice, enslavement or being told “No. Impossible. It cannot be done!”?
Honor and Loyalty. My Dad taught me a lot about honor and loyalty, the kind that ignores death, ignores irrational emotions and passion or fear for the sake of the mission. “Semper Fi”! He believed those two virtues were the highest qualities to aspire and live out. They are invincible, impenetrable, and unmoving for a U.S. Marine and man of principle. I believed him, to the marrow of my bones and to the deepest corner of my heart I believed him. I’m sure too he unflinchingly believed the Trojans and Spartans. Then April 25th, 1981 happened.
Like Aeneas to Dido, in my senior year of high school on Halloween night I was consensually seized, taken and swept downstream by the voluptuous beauty, spunk, vivacious lure and charm of my Roxanne. I lost my virginity that night, but it didn’t matter. I was lost on another planet and I did not care. I thought, this is what Dad has been talking about and trying to teach its profound meaning, its euphoric highs and explosions. Oh yeah… and with possible life-altering, lifetime consequences. My 17-year old brain libido kept repeating one thing in my head: Woah! I want/need more euphoric explosions! Every night or second night if possible!
But as it turned out I was very young and naive in the arena of love. Nothing I had hoped, dreamt, or expected for Roxanne and I played out. Five months later I caught my Roxanne inside another man’s kiss and heated embrace. I was so devastated the next 6-8 weeks, not only had I gotten fired from my great-paying summer job—a graveyard shift I had lost too much sleep from my Love’s betrayal—but I also sank into utter apathy over school grades combined with as many opportunities to drown myself in bottles of Bacardi Rum or in search of Jose Cuervo’s worm at the bottom. Those were some of my worst, last three-months of my high school senior year. They were also leading up to university where I had a near-full soccer/football scholarship—based on my athletic ability yes, but also high marks of course—waiting for me and my very promising collegiate then, as it turned out, pro soccer career. Did my foolish heart and Roxanne ruin my destiny?
Hindsight had taught me then and now that unleashed, reckless, teenage libidos are exactly what the Greeks and Romans feared most; like eruptions of Thera and Mount Vesuvius fear and terror… they cowered and ran from Earth-trembling, roaring, explosive, consuming eroticism. And I have learned by firstloins firsthand, many times (over 70 times to be precise) why they feared it so and were paralyzed by its voracity as had overwhelmed the aimless, smitten, refugee-Prince from Troy, Aeneas.
Hell Hath No Fury Like a Queen Betrayed and Abandoned
Once the intentions of Aeneas had been discovered Dido was hurt and angered by the Prince’s unscrupulous plan of secret escape. Rightly furious she hunts Aeneas and gives him a piece of her mind:
But soon the queen perceives the thin disguise: (What arts can blind a jealous woman’s eyes!) She was the first to find the secret fraud, Before the fatal news was blaz’d abroad.
At length she finds the dear perfidious man; Prevents his form’d excuse, and thus began: “Base and ungrateful! could you hope to fly, And undiscover’d scape a lover’s eye? Nor could my kindness your compassion move. Nor plighted vows, nor dearer bands of love? Or is the death of a despairing queen Not worth preventing, tho’ too well foreseen? Ev’n when the wintry winds command your stay, You dare the tempests, and defy the sea. False as you are, suppose you were not bound To lands unknown, and foreign coasts to sound; Were Troy restor’d, and Priam’s happy reign, Now durst you tempt, for Troy, the raging main? See whom you fly! am I the foe you shun?
Justice is fled, and Truth is now no more! I sav’d the shipwreck’d exile on my shore; With needful food his hungry Trojans fed; I took the traitor to my throne and bed: Fool that I was—— ’tis little to repeat The rest, I stor’d and rigg’d his ruin’d fleet. I rave, I rave! A god’s command he pleads, And makes Heav’n accessary to his deeds. Now Lycian lots, and now the Delian god, Now Hermes is employ’d from Jove’s abode, To warn him hence; as if the peaceful state Of heav’nly pow’rs were touch’d with human fate! But go! thy flight no longer I detain; Go seek thy promis’d kingdom thro’ the main! Yet, if the heav’ns will hear my pious vow, The faithless waves, not half so false as thou, Or secret sands, shall sepulchers afford To thy proud vessels, and their perjur’d lord.
Despite Dido’s outrage, tears, and pleas he would remain, to alter Aeneas’ heart back to her’s, the redirected Prince on the other hand feared more the reprisals of the gods if he failed to attend his greater destiny and glory. The modern rendering might be described as ‘service to social customs’ first and always—abiding to all at the expense of a beloved few.
Which is greater? It is a classic dilemma, an enigma that Virgil, at least, and certainly divine beings rip at our human nature and egos, whether insidious or not. It could be argued today that not too much has changed since 19 BCE, hence this blog-post’s title, Love: The Enigma. No, not Love the Enigma. However, many would enjoy the misread, macabre, but false title. Thanks to the Greeks we are darkly fond of a tragedy aren’t we? Ah, I mustn’t digress so much.
Dance of the Swords, Chronic Gods and Burning Hearts
Since Aeneas could not be dissuaded, that night in her chambers Dido flounders back in forth between bitter anger and fierce love. Her memories of passion now become unbearable torture with only one end in sight: waiting for Aeneas with no assurances. Her impending emptiness could be told by a song, this (2017) song, which conveys just one or another effect Dido could’ve lived with and longed for it’s return:
Eventually, unable to sleep and in emotional exhaustion, she hatches a rather impulsive scheme to escape her cruel fate and glory-smacked Lover.
The wretched queen, pursued by cruel fate, Begins at length the light of heav’n to hate, And loathes to live. Then dire portents she sees, To hasten on the death her soul decrees: Strange to relate! for when, before the shrine, She pours in sacrifice the purple wine, The purple wine is turn’d to putrid blood, And the white offer’d milk converts to mud. This dire presage, to her alone reveal’d, From all, and ev’n her sister, she conceal’d.
Tragically, Queen Dido could never compete with a man’s fame and destiny, much less the Gods of Mercury, Jupiter, and Zeus. The latter made sure of it by going again to Aeneas that night, disturbing him so deeply that he chose to sail to Italy with his fleet before sunrise. Atop her city walls and taller palace Dido watched Aeneas and his Trojan fleet take to the sea. It was a sharp spear pushed deeper into her broken heart and dreams. In tears, she turned toward the large pile of all Aeneas’ items he left for her, but was now among stacked wood, sticks, and kindling. A platform was on top with Aeneas’ dagger.
Then swiftly to the fatal place she pass’d, And mounts the fun’ral pile with furious haste; Unsheathes the sword the Trojan left behind (Not for so dire an enterprise design’d). But when she view’d the garments loosely spread, Which once he wore, and saw the conscious bed, She paus’d, and with a sigh the robes embrac’d; Then on the couch her trembling body cast, Repress’d the ready tears, and spoke her last: “Dear pledges of my love, while Heav’n so pleas’d, Receive a soul, of mortal anguish eas’d: My fatal course is finish’d; and I go, A glorious name, among the ghosts below. A lofty city by my hands is rais’d, Pygmalion punish’d, and my lord appeas’d. What could my fortune have afforded more, Had the false Trojan never touch’d my shore!” Then kiss’d the couch; and, “Must I die,” she said, “And unreveng’d? ‘Tis doubly to be dead! Yet ev’n this death with pleasure I receive: On any terms, ’tis better than to live. These flames, from far, may the false Trojan view; These boding omens his base flight pursue!”
Quickly after lighting the pyre, the flames surrounded Dido and soon would engulf her. She picks up Aeneas’ dagger. Stricken by unbearable circumstances, betrayal, humiliation of her throne and dishonored love—and one must presume her virginity too—Dido thrust the dagger into her chest and soon falls breathless with no more tears of pain. She had freed herself from the heartless cruelties of patriarchal gods and glorified princes:
Meantime the Trojan cuts his wat’ry way, Fix’d on his voyage, thro’ the curling sea; Then, casting back his eyes, with dire amaze, Sees on the Punic shore the mounting blaze. The cause unknown; yet his presaging mind The fate of Dido from the fire divin’d; He knew the stormy souls of womankind…
Once again these damned obsessions with either or… by men, women and their kingdoms—customs or ancient traditions too—and the God(s) that supposedly made them and chronically intervene when their created go awry or follow their hearts and natural passions! Why? What a madhouse of celestial rulers (or Ruler) we’re under and terrestrial, accidental(?) circus we mortals reside and travail!
Glorious Duty or Hastened Death?
An odd question? Maybe not. If there are some lessons we can learn from Virgil’s culture, and his ancient Greeks, they did indeed know a few things about passionate, perhaps reckless irresponsible love believe it or not. For them love had at least six forms, in no order or hierarchy:
Eros, or sexual passion, including steamy gooey eroticism
Philia, or deep unbreakable friendship
Ludus, or playful love and lust, but not hidden or deceiving
Agape, or love for everyone without discrimination
Pragma, or longstanding, reliable love
Philautia, or love of self or a very healthy self-esteem
These six different forms of love indeed exist around the world and are practiced quite well. Furthermore, this concept is applied and functions in expanded forms beyond six. In some parts of the world they are not bound by two people or a couple, let alone marriage. I dare say proudly (with full confidence), in various regions they are not limited by gender or sexual orientation either. Not in the least, thank all the stars and galaxies for that! Rhetorically speaking, do the customs and norms of Virgil’s day or any days in early to late Antiquity still govern and apply today?
If the art of coffee deserves its own sophisticated vocabulary, then why not the art of love? — Roman Krznaric — “How Should We Live? Great Ideas from the Past for Everyday Life,” BlueBridge Publishers, 2013
The answer is no, they do not govern or apply today. For me, this begs another question, Why couldn’t Aeneas and Dido gain every single component of complete love, more whole love? History has shown many times that individuals and humanity have the ingenuity and courage to recognize, adapt and make it work… often with sheer brilliance!
This brings me full circle, back to my friend’s question to me: Do I know what it is like to be head-over-heels in love with someone? Yes I do, unequivocally. Not only that, but I have grown past my fears of being horribly hurt or betrayed like Virgil’s Dido, that ironically liberated me allowing my natural, fiery passion to love and live more fully! This far and away includes my two painful divorces! Sadly, like many things in life and lifestyles, it disturbs others, even loved ones and endeared family members, unfortunately and unnecessary my own two children included. 😞
Loving so intensely, so passionately it will seem time stands still and all “normal reality” disappears or gets suspended. Today several, maybe most, social conventions receive less of my valuable time and energy. They fall by the wayside as more organic, meaningful, helpful, and impactful relations replace anxiety, confinement and a spoken or unspoken stress to look good for the Joneses as well as keeping up with them. This isn’t just with me either. Around the world this is the case. And living without shame or being shamed or wrongly and naively judged has remarkable health-life benefits! No comparison. I want to share two more quotes for you to think about that I often remind myself with:
Fear stifles, courage fulfills. — My version
‘Tis better to have loved [with all you have] and lost than never to have loved [so passionately] or be loved [so passionately] at all [liberally in return]. — Alfred Lord Tennyson, with my slight tweaks
This brings me to my question for you, my readers and followers:
Why must we magnificently imperfect, intelligent, and passionate human beings so limit ourselves during this short life with each other, unable to rewrite what’s past, and yet write what’s next? Why cheat ourselves from more?
By the way, Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! 😍🤭
Live Well — LOVE MUCH — Laugh Often — Learn to Fail Better