Valentine’s Day is a strange day indeed. It celebrates romantic love and has become a hugely commercial event throughout the world. I have never been comfortable with labelling certain days as ones to celebrate en masse, and find it hard to imagine being able show a certain emotion when directed to do so. Valentine’s Day asks us to turn on the tap of emotion to woo a loved one, or to impress someone whom we would like to love us.
In times of great global unrest, I often feel that if we celebrated more universal love towards our fellow beings, we would go a long way towards creating a more stable and compassionate world. Can you imagine world leaders being told to celebrate ‘Love Your Political Opponents Day’ or ‘Make Love Not War Day’? We could ask presidents and prime ministers to come together for a ‘love summit’, where the theme was love and compassion towards each other.
So many of us feel a need to find our perfect partner in order to find happiness. Think of the millions of people around the world right now, who are unable to get over a broken relationship. They might spend months or even years feeling that life is not quite the same since it ended. This is such a sad reflection on how much importance we give others over and above ourselves. We crave romance, but the elusive kind that cannot be sustained. To truly love is to never be ‘in’ love, because being in it means we can also be out of it. Love does not require us to define it, because it is omnipresent and always present. Love is. It cannot appear or disappear from our lives. People may leave our lives, but they do not take love with them.
Loving ourselves is the way to ensure we do not allow romantic love to crush us. How often do people declare themselves unlovable, or not good enough when a partner ends the relationship? Too often. We place too much emphasis on others validating us. This is unhealthy and dangerous when it comes to our self-esteem and sanity. The emotional damage that is done due to the ending of relationships means that we often carry it with us for the rest of our lives. Life is about learning lessons and becoming stronger as a result, not weaker. But we somehow don’t apply this rule to romance. Loving ourselves and offering this love through kindness and compassion towards others is true love. Offering it even to those who do not want to be romantically involved with us, is the only way to stay true to the wider meaning of love.
Romance is good.
This is absolutely not to say that there isn’t a huge place in life for romance. It is a special thing, but it is so much more than material offerings. The biggest bunch of flowers doesn’t mean they love you more; the most expensive meal or gift does not suggest that you are worthy of someone’s affection. Love cannot be quantified.
Celebrate true love
In Ayurvedic teaching, we learn that love is to be celebrated through living a good life filled with giving without expectation. We learn that loving our mind, body and spirit is the best form of self love. And only through this do we allow that love to spread to others. Living a holistically healthy life brings us to acceptance of our wonderful selves, without the need to find acceptance through others.
Make February 14th and every day a celebration of the truest kind of love.