Love is all around us; it is in us, with us and available every moment of every day. That being said if we look to the media and pop culture standards, St. Valentine’s Day is a lot like other holidays that requires us to buy, do, and behave in such a way that makes marketing teams heroes and CFOs happy. So here is my take on celebrating love which I call St. Valentime’s Day. The crux of love, I think, starts at the source.
We have many flavors of love: romantic love, love of our children, family, friends and sometimes deep, abiding love of chocolate, Twizzlers or good wine. The lucky of us love our lives, our work, our place in the world and all that is around us and let us not forget love of self. The problem with this is that we forget all the flavors of love sometimes when St. Valentine’s Day rolls around and we torture those we love with expectations of what love is ,what it looks like and what it requires in accoutrements and ties to a timeline or a to-do list. We use external markers for an internal process that is really like a bloom of a flower rather than an orchestrated event at Super Bowl half time or a romantic movie/book with faux people. Leave that to Nicolas Sparks; the poor guy only has one formula, don’t take it away or try to live it.
St. Valentime’s Day in comparison is about finding love all around, all the time and starting in the most important place. No, not the holiday isle at Walgreen’s chock full of big red hearts of foiled cardboard containing chocolate of mid to poor quality, which we love. Please, everyone knows to hit that on February 15th… we are not amateurs. What I do mean by the most important place is at home within ourselves. Loving all of who we are, our cranky, bloated, funny, smart, generous or selfish bits are the key. We are a kaleidoscope of pieces all coming together making a beautiful mosaic. If you start pulling out the bits you are not crazy about “oh this pink is too weird and that green is awful” pretty soon you just have a bunch of jagged bits. The mosaic, the art, the beauty is lost in the dissection. The dance between our fears, our passions, our laughter and courage is what makes it beautiful, then throw in cranky, quirky, and dumb-ass-ness and you really have something deep, rich and breathtaking. The juxtaposition of all the bits is where that wondrous, unique being that is us comes to light.
Maya Angelou said, “I don’t trust people who don’t love themselves and tell me, ‘I love you.’ … There is an African saying which is: Be careful when a naked person offers you a shirt.”
We choose people who can love us only as much as we love ourselves. Though we might say we love them, and they might say they love us, what lies underneath and within us is the measure of those words. Years ago I was deeply in love with a man who early in the relationship said something like he didn’t think much of anyone who loved him. He went on to ask how smart could one really be? I thought I could love him enough for the both of us. I could show him that his past bad, demanding girlfriends were not me and love was symbiotic, not parasitic. To quote my sister Amy about my choice, “You were trying to show a dog a card trick.”
The biggest part of that is I didn’t value who I was and what I brought to the table. I was better than I was in my 20’s and 30’s but not near where I am now. Learning about who I was, both good and bad, and treating all of my bits with kindness and compassion allows me to do that for others. We cannot give what we do not have, what we do not practice, what we do not believe. So where does this all leave us on St. Valentime’s Day?
It leaves us to start a real, honest, loving relationship with self. None of that bullshit of measuring yourself up against others, or against a weird perfect version of yourself you thought you would get to, a projection of what you should be, or a version of what others want you to be, but what you really are. Dive in, fall in love, and appreciate the weirdness of you. Only when we do this can we really give love. Only then are we filled with an abundance to give as it bubbles up from within. We are able to give it freely to everyone without a second thought as it is tapped from the source. Then we can dive in and fall in a deep love with those around us, build strong relationships with honesty and humor. We can also enjoy fine chocolate, wine and bubble baths with or without anyone else at the party delighting in all that is love. Happy Amour du Moi and St. Valentime’s Day y’all!