It’s that time of year again and I have been thinking a lot about love recently. Truthfully, I’ve always loathed Valentines Day – often spending the day yearning hopelessly for a flower delivery from a secret admirer that never arrives – but I was surprised to discover this year, in a proper loving relationship for the first time, the day still irked me.
It’s a day of chocolates, flowers and fancy dinners; the one day of the year designated for lovers. A day to fall in love, perhaps all over again.
And here is my vexation: all of these things signal love can be bought and are suggestive of a sole day of effort. Even the words “fall in love” indicate an involuntary hold over the senses.
If I’ve learnt anything in the past year it is this: being in love and being in a loving relationship is anything but involuntary. It’s rarely the product of material things or decadent experiences. And remaining in love is not something you do or think about once a year, but something you work on everyday.
Simply put, love takes work. As my friend Nealy wrote so eloquently this week, it takes commitment, among other efforts. Maintaining a loving relationship is a process of understanding. Love demands respect and requires adoration. It takes time and patience. I believe truly being in love with someone is perhaps the hardest thing you will do. But I also believe those efforts pay off in a big way. Unquestionably, love is worth it.
Here’s something else I have learned: love does not reside solely in one other person. There are many sources of love in this world: family, friends, communities. Even the little furry people in our lives are great, indiminshable wells of love and companionship. Most of all, we have unlimited pools of love and energy within ourselves.
If I could go back to that yearning hopeless romantic waiting for her flower delivery on all those Valentines Days, feeling unspecial and unloved, I would tell her this: you are loved. Stop looking for it in all the wrong places and start valuing all the incredible sources of love, happiness and friendship you have all around you.
I once read that “to love is to give without the expectation of receiving”. And that is what I think love truly is: constant acts of selflessness without the expectations of getting anything back for your efforts. Not once a day, and certainly not once a year combined with roses and a card, but in every moment you’re able. And to every person you love in your life, not just one significant other.
Don’t wait for Valentines Day to roll around next year to tell those around you that you love them. Give all you can of yourself, in every moment, to those around you and, more importantly, to yourself.
If we all did that, perhaps we wouldn’t need Valentines Day after all?