Cupid. Eros. Love. Love. Love. All you need is...makes the world go...is like a red, red rose. But--not everyone has "it": Romantic Love. I am so happy to see a holiday honoring this emotion with all of the greed, suffering, and violence of this world. It seems like one of the last great childish things for us to do, like weaving daisy chains or catching fireflies at dusk. We believe--for one small revolution of the Earth--in tenderness.
Of course, how we show it is all wrong. We're trapped in $100 dinners from a limited menu, carrying $75 flowers we'll watch die. Some expect diamonds, chocolates, and caviar. Others expect favors in return for those things. So many "Hollywood" notions of reality left me as an adolescent with this anticipation that this day would be the one the boy I liked would tell me...Or, later on, this day I would bump into Prince Charming at the grocery store amid the water-crystal-encrusted spinach and overripe pears. Doves would come bearing messages from my bevy of admirers...something. When nothing ever did, I hated Valentine's Day. So much build-up for such a silly thing as Hallmark cards and wilted roses.
(a Valentine made by Petunia Moon...)
This is why, I propose, we open the day up for L-O-V-E with a capital "L". For just one day, bare your whole heart to the world. Do some small act of kindness for the neighbor you nod at each morning but otherwise ignore. The girl who makes your coffee at Starbucks? Let her know that every morning you are lucky enough to have something delicious and comforting on your way to work because she does her job well. Tell your kid's teacher you appreciate his hard work. Call your mother and father. Call the one person you know who annoys you above all others and just say hello and listen with an open mind for one brief moment. Tell your daughter she is beautiful and mean it--even if she's in all black again and her ears are pierced with safety pins...or she's in a hot pink mini-skirt that makes you cringe and a low-cut shirt that makes your heart pound with fear. Let her know how flawless she is. Tell your son the same thing, even if his face is breaking out and his voice is breaking up...if his chin sports scraggly fuzz and he says, "Huh?" for the thousandth time this hour. Isn't he amazing?
If this fails--go bigger. Love the snow-heavy trees on the other side of the windowpane...the birds in migration overhead...tell the growing sunlight how you adore the brilliance. Write a check for a cause you believe in or call them and say, "What can I do?". Avoid the news--just for today--or don't immediately believe everything you hear or see about your "enemy". Just for one afternoon, think of a mother walking down a street in Baghdad, her child's hand in hers. She feels a bittersweet ache for his thick eyelashes fanning his rounded cheeks...and she cares so deeply, right there on the pavement she is drowning beneath the clear blue sky. She wants the world for that little one--as I do for my own. His warm sweaty palm in hers is a promise she works hard to keep everyday. This day...just for this day...hold that life close to yours with great love.
And to my Valentine...know that I hold my life to yours so that I no longer can see beginnings or endings--it's just one vast infinite love--and I'm not even saying this for chocolate...