One of the truly great blessings of adulthood is that Valentine’s Day is no longer a thinly veiled popularity contest, a day when everyone drops cheap cards and candy hearts for their intended into a big box, and then waits with bated breath to see how many of those hopeful offerings have their name on them. I can remember glancing furtively around me every Valentine’s Day during my elementary school years as the cards were handed out, hoping upon hope that I didn’t have the smallest pile.
From the sage perspective of adulthood, of course, I can see that Valentine’s Day is not a popularity contest – but as a single woman it certainly isn’t my favorite day of the year. If I’m not careful, the relentless gooeyness that assaults me from every media outlet can plunge me into flippancy, cynicism or – on a particularly bad day – despair.Not exactly the outlook I hope to share with my clients, more than a few of whom are longing for the intoxicating connection that is so unique to romantic love. Thankfully, I’ve discovered that it’s possible to shake off the muck of my own bad attitude and, in the stillness, reconnect with a deeper, kinder and far saner truth than my whiny ego has led me to believe.
And here is the truth I have come to know: we are here to love and be loved because (and in spite of what appears to be overwhelming evidence to the contrary) we ARE love. It is our most fundamental nature. It is the very pulse that animates the universe, the source of all creativity and joy and the reason that, again and again, good triumphs over evil. We cannot not be loved because love is always present, within and around us. We can choose to acknowledge that love or not - we can choose to open the channel that invites love to flow through us, or keep it closed - but we cannot choose to be other than who we are.
Paradoxically, I came to this understanding when a relationship with a man I believed to be my soul mate came to an abrupt ending that, frankly, wasn’t the one I had secretly written. I stood in the vacuum of what might have been, struggling to make sense of what actually happened and flailing about rather helplessly in the mess of my raw, untidy emotions. “How could love have been taken from me so swiftly?” I demanded of an unseen and apparently indifferent God. And to this day I sit in humble awe of the grace that was visited on my open, bleeding heart.
Somehow, in the midst of my rantings and sputterings and self-accusations, the tiniest spark of comfort began to glow – slowly at first, then finally enveloping me in its brilliance. I began to grasp that, no matter what had happened in the world of dating and marriage that was so charged with our fears and defenses and rigid expectations, the pure love we had experienced would never go away. It could not. It was true and eternal and nothing could take it from me. I understood how blessed I had been, not just to have received such love from another, but to have given love - a great, big, infinite love that knows no bounds. I realized that the very act of giving love inevitably calls love to us, because giving and receiving flow through the same channel and are, essentially, one and the same energy. I saw how loving had brought me to life. How loving is life.
So now when I’m tempted to complain about the lack of a special someone with whom to celebrate Valentine’s Day – well, first I allow myself a little hissy fit, but I endeavor valiantly not to wallow in it. Then I go deep within and remind myself that I have a choice about how I view February 14th. I can see it as a contrived and counterfeit holiday that places a one-dimensional image of romantic love on a ridiculously high pedestal -- or I can choose to embrace it as a day to honor true Love in all its forms: friends, compassion, family, beauty, dancing, laughing, purring cats…life itself. May we all fall in love with our lives this Valentine’s Day.