One of the most insightful of quotes about love and the nature of relationships comes from William Shakespeare and features on an early design of mine.
“Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds, or bends with the remover to remove.” Shakespeare, sonnet 116
It is easy to forget this when young. Desperate for love after a confusing and contradictory set of lessons from childhood, I would constantly alter and bend in my late teens and early 20s. This is not love. If the object of your affections wants to mould you a certain way, or you get the feeling he or she is not going to like you if you behave a certain way, this is not love.
If someone loves you, they love you, warts and all, and it matters not a jot if you have heavy thighs or a habit they find annoying. It took me some years and many mistakes, including a marriage, to realise this. There is nothing healthier than being comfortable in your own skin. While this self-confidence, I have found, comes with age and experience, realising early on what isn’t healthy can smooth the path. (Your time is up!)
As much as I appreciate technology, I am sad that we have almost lost the art of letter-writing, particularly when it comes to love letters. It is this sadness that inspired the collage piece on this cushion. Hand-written letters of whatever description are still a joy to receive. I can no longer reply in kind because of dexterity problems and hate that this is so.
Which brings me to Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Sonnet 43, Sonnets from the Portuguese, [pub. 1850].
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
Take care and keep laughing!