I was going to write you a really meaty blog today about abandonment issues. I was thinking of it as I put the mare to rights after our ride and listened to the birds sing. I was going to lay myself bare. Vulnerability, I thought, is a most excellent thing to learn in middle age. The defended state is no damn good. One must throw open the gates of the castle keep.
Then I got home and looked at the pictures I had taken of the dear red duchess, of the gatepost and the tree bark and the lichen and the sweet little Paint, of Stanley the Dog doing his Captain Handsome face.
Fuck that for a game of soldiers, I thought. Write about love instead.
Valentine’s Day exists on the very edge of my consciousness. I am dimly aware that the media has been creating about it for a few days now, and shall ramp up the pressure as we motor towards the 14th. Luckily, it has nothing to do with me. My only thought about it was that I might send the Beloved Cousin some flowers, because that day in February should not just be about done-to-death old romantic love, but about all the enduring loves.
I’m not a huge fan of romantic love. I think that is because I was really, really bad at it, and then rather gave up, with a gusty sigh of relief. I know that people love it and some people are really good at it. I think it’s a talent like any other. It turns out my talent bends towards the other kinds of love. I have love of place, love of beauty, love of food, love of words, love of books, love of friends, love of laughter, love of family, love of thinking thoughts, love of thoroughbreds, love of Stan the Man and Red the Mare. I love Scotland, and moss, and trees. I love big, abstract things like kindness and generosity of spirit, and prosaic, specific things, like good manners. I love writing.
If I had one of the Young People in front of me, asking for advice about life, and I were to put on my wise old aunt hat and tell them something true, I would say: find something you really, really love and do it. I would say: don’t confine yourself to one love. Open your heart to all the loves, especially the very small ones, which will bring you joy every single day. You do not need a string section. You do not have to wait for the grand sweep. Find the love in the unexpected places, the ordinary places. Dig for love like a pig digs for truffles.
There was an awful lot of love in the field this morning, as the regal Scottish light poured down on us like wine. It’s there in every single one of these pictures. It’s not a bad way to start the week.