A Valentine's Day postcard arrived today from a friend of ours - Tamar Charney, who used to be our boss as programming director here at Michigan Radio. Now she's left us to be Managing Editor at NPR One.
I found a heart on the shore of Lake Michigan. It was a stone that had washed up in a storm on New Year's day. It was lying there in the sand with a bunch of other rocks. But this one stood out because it was shaped like a perfect Valentine's Day heart.
The time between New Year’s and Valentine's Day is when we all swear we’re going to get our shit/act together. Gyms are full of people trying to get in shape. Everyone is on a diet. And all those resolutions are in full swing, but then come Valentine's Day we crash and lose our drive to make over our lives.
Blame the chocolates in heart shaped boxes if you want, but they aren’t the problem. The problem is the whole premise of this holiday. It’s one big festival of a gauzy romantic love that exists only on a Hallmark card and in a 1980’s John Hughes movie. Valentine's Day smacks you upside the head with the realization that your love life will never ...ever ...possibly ...measure up...and all the New Year’s resolutions in the world won’t win you the happiness that comes from love like that.
So we give up. We resign ourselves to our pathetic, seemingly loveless lives.
But not so fast. The problem is what Valentine’s Day is celebrating. What if Valentine’s Day wasn’t about the fantasy version of romantic love? What if it was about the kinds of love that really make a difference in our lives?
Because there isn’t just one kind of love.
Sure there is romantic love with all it’s real world blessings and curses. But what about unrequited love? And past loves.
Love of family. And love for friends.
The animals we love. The kids we love.
The foods we love, the music we love. The places we love.
Love of self ...and love of life.
There are so many types of love. Each with its own joys and its own sorrows. Each one plays a part in making us who we are. And at any given time one kind of love may be going strong while another fades away.
So, if you look for more than one idealized sort of love, you may find it washes up every day in unexpected places. Like that heart shaped stone. You just have to know to look for it wherever you are.
And that is worth celebrating.
Happy Valentine's Day loves!