Culture, Family, History, Plain Speaking

On Reality, Fear, and Projection

O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
An’ foolish notion

Ah!  The sainted Rabbie Burns.  Scotland’s national poet.  Romantic to the end.  Socialist.  Raconteur.  A man who dropped his seed wherever he felt like it, upon whichever woman struck his fancy at the time, and then moved on leaving her in the dust.  Not an entirely admirable man, but a man, nevertheless.

I find it hard to disagree with this assessment, from electricscotland, that:

It is evident that Burns was a man of extremely passionate nature and fond of conviviality; and the misfortunes of his lot combined with his natural tendencies to drive him to frequent excesses of self-indulgence. He was often remorseful, and he strove painfully, if intermittently, after better things. But the story of his life must be admitted to be in its externals a painful and somewhat sordid chronicle.

Indeed.  And probably not the only one who’s lived such a life, as things go.

Good thing–as the above website also observes, and from a literary criticism perspective–he was a pretty capable poet as well.

Today is the 234th anniversary of the last day of Burns’s “Tour of the Highlands” which took place from August 25 until September 16, 1787.  There’s a nice little interactive page here which lets you follow his journey, and view the remarks from his diary at each stage.  If, like me, you’re interested in Scottish history, warts and all, perhaps because–like me–you have some in your ancestry,*** it’s a good place to start your data ferreting.

Truth be told though, my soft spot for Rabbie Burns centers on one of his sloppiest poems: A Red, Red Rose:

O my Luve is like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June;
O my Luve is like the melody
That’s sweetly played in tune.

So fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry.

Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi’ the sun;
I will love thee still, my dear,
While the sands o’ life shall run.

And fare thee weel, my only luve!
And fare thee weel awhile!
And I will come again, my luve,
Though it were ten thousand mile.

Crimenutely. What mush.

Although, as it turns out, “My Luve is Like a Red Red Rose,” set to music, is the “March Past” of the  British Army’s Loyal North Lancashire Regiment (my dad’s regiment).  And we played it at his cremation service as his coffin processed towards the flames.  Lord.  A few of the congregants were worried that it would be saccharine, romanticized, and unbearably “twee” (as the Brits would say).

But, no.  My family (both by birth and by marriage) doesn’t do unbearably twee.  We look reality in the face, and we get on with it.

We went with this version:

The congregation–to judge by the reaction after the fact–was pleasantly surprised.

And so, to today’s quote at the start of this post:

Yeah.  It might be best to stop fooling ourselves and each other, when it comes to how we think others perceive us.  And perhaps we should start telling the truth.  Because if the dress you’re wearing really does, in the eyes of others “make [your] ass look fat,” it’s easy enough to find a dress that doesn’t.  We shouldn’t set each other up for failure.  And we shouldn’t be dismissive of others’ very real fears, as we attempt (often in well-meaning ways) to shore them up with insincere, and ultimately useless, flattery which–as the lessons of social media time and time again demonstrate–backfire in horrible ways.

I’ll turn 67 in four days.  Not fighting it at all.  In fact, I’m enjoying the prospect.  And I invite all those brave enough for the journey, to join me for the ride.

***It would appear that Simon Fraser, Lord Lovat, easily recognized by fans of Outlander, and the last man to be publicly beheaded (by the actual State–I feel obliged, in the 21st century (for some reason) to insert that disclaimer–in England, was, at some generations removed, one of my ancestors,

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