With Valentine’s Day fast-approaching and sales being made in the flower, candy, food and diamond industries, we are reminded of that pesky four-letter word and what it means: Love. This is the day we are to be especially giving, loving, generous and romantic. What is that about? Isn’t the celebration of such a day practically an admission of guilt that we need to be reminded of such things? So we need to be reminded to be grateful on Thanksgiving. We need to be reminded not to take our freedom for granted on the 4th of July. And we need to be reminded to Love our significant other on Valentine’s Day. Wait, so we can slide the other 364 days of the year and coast on our irresistible charms? You just might have a free pass to be a selfish jerk since it’s not Valentine’s Day. Just don’t forget the obligatory “apology flowers!”
While the sentiment of the day might have its heart in the right place (no pun intended), the holiday’s intentions might be more effective if it was branded as “Un-Valentine’s Day” or perhaps “Be a Total Dick Day”. Under the assumption that we are as loving, kind, generous and romantic towards our loved ones as we can possibly be every day of the year, the exception to the rule should then be to have one day when we are allowed to be a complete douchebag. Yes, I like this idea much better.
Valentine’s Day encourages people to be way too lazy the other days of the year. Seriously, how hard is it to pull out all of the stops on one day of the year, on cue? And quite frankly, by virtue of the fact that everyone and their brother is celebrating it, doesn’t it make the whole charade meaningless anyway? Think about it. It wasn’t your boyfriend or husband’s idea to make reservations at a romantic seaside restaurant swathed in candlelight, give us a dozen red roses or pop the question (again). People are celebrating this holiday because that is what they are “supposed” to do. The unspoken agreement around this day of “freely” giving love is: If you don’t go along with the celebrations en masse, may God’s peace be with you, because you will be sleeping on the couch for forgetting or not making the appropriate plans. I, personally, would rather be surprised on my worst day by a truly thoughtful and self-driven gesture, than to receive the generic Valentine’s staples as a token of someone’s love drenched in the added pressure of obligation or expectation. Expectation of any kind inevitably creates debt. Better to show your love on a random Tuesday in September, it will mean much more.
“Love sought is good, but given unsought is better.”
— Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing
So celebrate Valentine’s Day at your own risk. Disclaimer: May encourage one to put the love-o-meter on cruise control for the rest of the year, or at least ride the engine fumes of that $500 dinner for a few months. In honor of the holiday and the L-word, I am posting in the coming days about inspiring acts of Love: Selfless, generous, kind, miraculous occurrences where Love’s power has pierced through the darkness. None of the Love in any of these stories costed a dime. They were all unexpected, without strings, without obligation, sometimes without reason or explanation.
I read about this incident several years ago and remember being awestruck. How do such things happen? A 12-year old girl in Ethiopia was abducted by 7 men who severely beat her and were potentially preparing to gang-rape her before forcing her into marriage. How romantic. Somehow a group of lions had heard the cries of the girl, intercepted the men and chased them away. It is reported that the lions, the fiercest carnivores of the jungle encircled her and guarded her for half a day without ever harming her. When the officials found the girl after having been missing for a week, the lions simply got up and dispersed, leaving her safely with her rescuers.
Other endearing acts of Love in nature that put our Valentine’s Day posturing to shame.