I hate Valentine’s Day, I think it’s a load of shit. When I was a teenager I was too shy to approach people who I thought were attractive or interesting, in that way, so I daydreamed about them instead. I created little movies that played inside my head of the secret message that I would receive on this Valenti….stupid load of shit day that would somehow be delivered to my mailbox or school bag. I’d imagine myself opening it and smiling and feeling all warm and melt-y inside and I’d look around for the romantic fool who’d left it then skip into the house all self satisfied and admired from afar. But it never happened.
Then, after a few false starts, romantic love did come into my life and, even though he made me a pull out card of love hearts one Valentine’s Day, it didn’t feel like in my daydreams. In this more real experience of love, I’d sometimes be overwhelmed by the responsibility that came with an intimate relationship. I’d feel awkward when he tried to hold my hand in the street and wasn’t quite sure how to respond when he did something obviously considered and kind.
The daydream version of love and the real experience of love were quite different and that’s what’s so shit about Valentine’s Day. It’s a made up day where people are encouraged to share movie type expressions of affection and those who aren’t in on the charade feel left out or even worse, unloved or unlovable.
It makes me sad to think about all the people who, just like me as a teenager, feel bad about themselves today because they aren’t in on this outward expression that is perhaps more of a defence against the truth of loneliness than a real sign of love.
Love isn’t clingy or cloying, that’s attachment. Love doesn’t need verification in the form of a card, overpriced flowers or a teddy bear, that’s commercialism. To love is to genuinely care about someone else, to have a heartfelt wish for their happiness perhaps even over and above our own.
It is possible to feel love when we are not in an intimate relationship. We can just think about someone else, anyone, even somebody we don’t know, even someone on the other side of the world who we’ve never met, and spend a few moments wishing for them to be happy. That’s it. Not asking for anything in return, just a simple, beautiful wish for their happiness. Try it if you like. Close your eyes, think about somebody else, anyone, and wish for their happiness. Maybe you’ll feel it as a stirring in your heart, an inner light. Perhaps you’ll smile. That’s love and it’s available to all of us, every day.