Valentine’s Day. The only calendar day of the year designated exclusively for love, stamped on the 14th with a red heart. Whether you are celebrating a new love, an old love, a hope of love yet to come or a long lost love, it is a time to reflect on or affirm our love for another person. It is a holiday to remind us that we are both lovable and capable. Lovable, given all our flaws and misfortunes and capable of loving, given all our skepticism and insecurities. We hold cupid’s arrow in our own hands. Yes, the key to our hearts is between our own two fingers. To make ourselves more lovable means loving others more easily and so it is, the circle of love.
Ahhh, your first love. You know, the one you may have discovered in the worn back seat of a ’67 Mustang, or during a KISS concert listening to “Beth”, or maybe behind the stadium sporting a letter jacket and sweaty palms. Wherever it was and whoever it was are etched in your heart forever. It was electrifying. Selfish feelings of love that came crashing over you, knocking your head and heart into polar opposite directions. But you didn’t care. You were swept away and it felt amazing. And now you had your blueprint. Maybe.
And then there is the love you feel like you have known forever. The one that swept you away and landed you in debt and parenthood, in dirty socks and shared coffee, in lost identity and gained teamwork. The big one. The one that shows our best and worst sides but still keeps us saying “I’m glad you’re my Valentine” year after year. The love that gives us security, a place and a purpose, a reason to continue life’s journey of milestones. The one we hope endures forever.
Now, for lost loves and hopeful loves, I offer this advice. First, never erase the memories of a once love. It has enriched you and enlightened you in ways never to be explained or repeated. Keep the cards, read the letters, look at the pictures. It is part of who you are today. This intimacy influenced and shaped your understanding of love, teaching you how to give and receive love more easily. Look at it as a step to being better at love and, a beautiful memory. Now, for those of you dreaming of a love yet to come, dream big. Know your desires, understand your limitations, offer your whole heart. Be willing to adjust and adapt without settling or sacrificing too much. Love is a mutual respect. Picture this. The front of a large building is held up by two single ornate columns. The columns are architecturally spaced perfectly to support the structure. If they were erected too close together, the roof would cave in. If built too far apart, the roof would collapse. Either way, the building would no longer be strong enough to stand. Look for the kind of love that is both strongly shared and strongly supportive. Oh, and be patient. In life, timing is a matter of the heart.
So in the song lyrics of the great Tina Turner, “What’s Love Got To Do With It”? Only everything.
Happy Valentine’s Day my friends!