There seem to be three main sentiments that arise when Valentine’s Day arrives. One is either: 1) excited beyond belief to celebrate a relationship with another on what is – arguably – the most romantic day of the year; 2) livid, because one is alone and annoyed with all of the pomp and circumstance, commercialization, and general amorousness; or, 3) indifferent and more thrilled about the Season 2 premier of House of Cards on Netflix. Perhaps there would be more excitement all around if it were a statutory holiday. Who doesn’t love a day off work? This way, too, singletons could sleep the day away, far from public displays of affection and buried under duvet covers, eating self-purchased chocolates, and watching When Harry Met Sally and other Meg Ryan-approved films until the clock strikes midnight, bidding the cursed day away. (Not to sound all Bridget Jones about the matter, or anything).
In all seriousness though, I think that it is wonderful that there is a day on which we celebrate love. It may be the eternal optimist in me, or the side of me that wants to believe, despite so many examples to the contrary, that human beings are capable of great love and kindness. Given how efficient we are as a species at undercutting others, or pillaging, maiming and killing fellow Homo sapiens, it seems more than reasonable that, on at least one day in the year, we pause to celebrate love and extend affection to others.
Although the day has become focused on eros love (that focused on sexual or romantic desire), I believe that we do ourselves a great disservice when we forget about the three other forms of love that the Ancient Greeks identified: storge (kinship or familiarity); friendship (philia) and agape (self-emptying or divine love). It could be the idealist in me that seeks inclusivity, but looking at love in this multi-faceted way makes love even more accessible than we might at first believe. Despite what commercials or films may show, even if one is without a romantic honey, there is still so much love to celebrate. I love my friends. I love my family. Sometimes (I must confess) I even love strangers – particularly those who, with an offhanded remark, make me laugh or who remind me of something that makes me nostalgic. In sum, the glass is more than half full, given how many beloveds you really can possess.
Signing off (with love),