Love. The difficult word. Where everything starts, where we always return. Love. Love's lack. The possibility of love. - Jeanette Winterson
Okay - so the big V-day is coming up. And it tends to make some people very very grumpy. Usually non-partnered people, who grumble about the hallmark-y-ness and commercialization of relationships. There is/was a part of me, even when I was partnered person, who agreed with this sentiment. It is Hallmark-y. And people do all kinds of things like buy highly non-creative (and often wilty) bouquets of red roses filled with far too many ferns and baby's breath. Or even worse, bouquets of carnations filled out with far too many ferns and baby's breath. And heart-shaped boxes of crappy chocolate. And bad, bad Hallmark cards filled with annoying and poorly written rhymes about lurrrrve. (One could also make a very strong argument for Valentine's day being a celebration of normative couplings and heterosexuality as well, but I'll save that for another day).
Oddly, it is as a non-partnered person that I have come to appreciate Valentine's day more. We live in a world filled with a whole lot of capital H-hate. Intolerance. Violence. Greed. General yuckiness abounds. Every time we turn on the television or read the news, someone is hurting someone else. And we become so accustomed and inured to it that it seems, well, normal. And expected. So in this light, it occurs to me, at least of late, that a day designed to celebrate love is actually pretty fucking radical. We do very little to really celebrate our capacity to genuinely touch other people and be touched by other people, in lovely and positive ways.
It doesn't have to be a Hallmark day. Leave that to the boring and unimaginative, which you clearly are not. Whether you are partnered or alone or somewhere is the murky spots in between - why not instead use Valentine's day as a reminder to take out that heart of yours and dust it off. Open it. Share it with someone. Share it with yourself. Your kids. Your dog or cat or rabbit or iguana or guinea pig, whathaveyou. Remember how precious and rare it is, this business of loving. Write a love letter. Write it to yourself first, and then someone else, if you feel so inclined. Listen to fabulous love songs. Take yourself out for a run or a latte or whatever tickles your fancy. Wish on some stars. Imagine things differently. Help your kid write out their valentines to every single classmate, and their teacher. Buy yourself some wine and a bunch of flowers. (Though here, I might urge you to look beyond red roses and carnations with ferns and baby's breath, but that's just my massive flower snobbery coming out). Use the day to remind yourself to be kinder to yourself, and to other people. That we don't, can't and shouldn't live in a bubble by ourselves. That we have to nurture relationships; friendships, lovers, families, pets and most importantly, ourselves.
Use this day to remind yourself that all that hatred and violence and generally abounding yuckiness is not, in fact, a natural state. We can do better.
Much, much better.
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