Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, which means modern society will once again be polarized into those who celebrate it, abhor it, or just plain ignore it.
I’ve long excused myself from all the controversies about the history or significance of Valentine’s Day. But I’m in the mood to talk about love, and something more.
Love. The word has been idolized, misused, overused, commoditized, and in recent years, highly-sexualized. If anything stands out consistently from the TV and movie montages over the past decade, it’s Hollywood’s romantic comedy movies and The Bachelor/Bachelorette reality series that have run since 2002, shown in dozens of countries and spun for other shows.
Never has love been so formulated, glamorized with witty one-liners, and celebrated by dreamy, grand gestures as in the romantic comedy genre. And never has love been so commoditized and sexualized as in dating shows, even without blatant physical consummation scenes. Oh wait, because that would be porn.
I’m not 14. Of course there’s a cosmic Venn diagram involving love and lust, just as each can exist independently from the other. The problem arises when the line is blurred and love ends up being served carnal-style first.
Again, I’m not 14. Being wined, dined and florally drowned do not love make. Romance helps to ignite and replenish sparks, but beyond that, mutual trust and commitment makes enduring love.
Trust and commitment are often formed through fiery spats, flowing tears, or the mundane chores of trash taking and bill paying or as we call it, the dear old day-to-day life. A picture-perfect meet-cute is a dangerous oversimplification, at best.
You think I’ve been watching too much TV and movies? Then I suppose you don’t know the time I spend surfing news and tweeting. In this age of communication, whether we admit it or not, most of us spend much more time getting connected to people, ideas and events. We want it, need it, and now rather than later. Yet in this universal rush, somehow, we and love have often parted company.
I’ve had love. I’ve fought for it, strived to keep it, and lost it, too. Perhaps more tales than I’d care to regale my grandkids with later, but not that many that I’m too confused to know what I want or too tired to keep seeking what I want.
I keep a little light within, and use it to navigate the treacherous, often dishonesty-infested waters of adult relationships.
And I think the little personal light is what we all should return to and believe in, now more than ever. That light connects our reasoning mind, linking heart and rarely-referenced soul. We all have it within, though often hidden, or barely lit.
Even if it’s lit brightly, sometimes we’re tempted to ignore it for the fireworks outside. We see ourselves as someone we’re not, or we see our partners as someone else they aren’t, and then we conclude that either love died or was never there to begin with. I sure as hell have made that mistake.
Keep your social media connections. Keep your social life. But before engaging with another human being, always make honest, determined attempts to listen to the telling voice inside, to look at the flickering light within.
Those two things will allow you to know yourself and to help you honestly acknowledge what, or whom, you’re getting yourself into. Is this a momentary fit of rage, or a pattern of abusive behavior? Is this an overly sunny disposition, or a fleeting attention span? Is this a sense of camaraderie, or inability to function independently? Is this a cautionary attitude, or a cautionary tale? Is this a match made in heaven or the devil’s masterpiece in brilliant disguise?
I don’t have the answers for each of you. But I’m grateful, that while I’m still faithfully seeking
and searching for enduring love, that includes a healthy dose of lust, I’m fortunate to have finally found that light within. I feel less confused, less angry, less hurt. Feb. 14 or any other day, I have that light guiding me.
Find that light, keep it lit, look at it, and look with it. Have your own flickering flame this Valentine’s
— Lynda Ibrahim