Whether you dread it or celebrate it with everything from drugstore candy to animated emojis, Valentine’s Day is hard to ignore. From our childhood memories of shoe boxes stuffed with cute colored cards from classmates to the 25 billion dollar industry of today, we’re bound to think about love. (And if you’re me, also a bit about the working conditions of the woman in the rose factory outside of Bogota.)
Avoiding images of romance is impossible if you own a phone, a television, or a set of eyeballs. Pictures of proposals and candlelit dinners can call forth not just love but also loneliness. If you’re not a romantic at heart (hey, not everyone scores a four on the enneagram test) or not in a relationship, there’s still lots to love about love.
Love comes in many forms. Perfecting your piano concerto playlist. Solving a software stumbling block. Your beloved ferret or your favorite falafel shop. My friend Matt says that we all should find “one thing to love.” I say, “at least.”
Love is for everyone. We have all stumbled through an important project, performed poorly under pressure, forgotten what’s most important in a moment that really mattered. Just because I went through an entire interview yesterday with lipstick smeared on my big front teeth doesn’t mean I’m not deserving of love, right? Being human doesn’t disqualify us from deserving love in our lives.
Love is everywhere. The brain tends to filter out evidence that conflicts with our existing beliefs. If you think there is no love to be found, you won’t find it. In fact, you’ll search for signs of a loveless life. When I remember that the truth is everywhere, I find it in the smile of my barista and the first bits of green poking up from the late winter earth. Believe in love and start gathering proof of its existence.
Love heals. Ask anyone you delivered a pan of lasagna to after the death of their dog.
Love is the one thing you can give away and count on having more of. A listening ear, a small chore done without being asked, a thoughtful word of acknowledgment, that text that requires nothing in return. It may not return to you immediately or directly, but it will expand all around you I promise.
Love costs us nothing more than a choice. We may not feel loved. We might not feel in the mood. But even if we don’t want to, we can be willing. Choose to be loving.
Love endures. My sister-in-law Sharon was born on Valentine’s Day. She received a diagnosis of an incurable condition not long after my brother Mel fell in love with her while she helped him heal a bum knee. Mel was beside her until the end of their long and loving marriage. Sharon’s body is gone, but I can feel her love for my brother pressing on my heart right now as surely as I press my fingers on this keyboard.
We all need something to love, something to do, and something to look forward to. Here’s sending you some love to go out and find yours today.
Happy Valentine’s Day.
What thoughts and feelings come up for you on this day?
Where do you see evidence of love in your life?
Are you willing to give or receive some love today?