It’s Valentine’s Day again. It’s time get out the cards, hearts, roses, dinners, rings and other props of the courting season. Valentine’s Day is something like the fertility rites of yesteryear. It’s easy to get swept up in the hype, and also easy to get bruised by the rebuffs.
With a dose of Valentinian consciousness, spare a thought for what it means to be in love, and to court someone to love you in return. We all look for love, love to give and love to receive. It works best when the recipient of our love is the same one who donates it back to us. Stretching this organ donation analogy, the donor-recipient match works best when there’s no rejection. It is lovely to love, and to be loved, especially in return. And we hope to love happily ever after. Sometimes we do.
And sometimes we don’t. Something gets in the way, goes wrong, and the transplant fails, the love rejects and looks for a new host. This happens more and more often in our world. Love ends, it is finite, it doesn’t last forever anymore. Our expectations of everlasting love can sometimes seem naïve. Sure we can swap sides at half time, and maybe it’s a positive step in our lives. Who’s to say? The thing is that there’s always pain and suffering, hurt and loss when love dies, fades, or vanishes down the plug.
But there’s one kind of love that never fades, that truly lasts forever. It is the hardest kind of love to come by. It’s the only kind of love we have to learn, not earn. Loving someone else comes easily, naturally, we fall in love, it happens. It is usually led by lust, sexual attraction is the catalyst, we fall in lust and from there into love. It’s gravity that takes us there.
But loving oneself is different. It is not easy, but also not difficult. Self-love lasts forever. It never dies. It doesn’t depend on anyone other than your self, and so cannot be taken away, or misappropriated. It’s monogamous and at the same time, tolerates, indeed welcomes, love of others. And best of all, there’s no rejection.
But it doesn’t come easy and it is not instinctive. It’s not passive, like falling. It’s counter-intuitive. It has to be learned. But when you learn how, you’re never alone, and every day is Valentine’s Day. Like the young Alex Piciarelli says in his extraordinary You Tube video, love yourself, because if you don’t, no-one else can.
Happy Valentine’s Day one and all.