As has often been the case here over the past six years, I sat down to write on February 14, 2009, without having any clear idea of what I would say. The result proved to me the value of something I was told long ago: When you want to know what you think about something, sit down and start writing. The result, edited slightly for reading today, also sits in my memory as one of the posts that most pleases me in the six-year history of this blog.
It being Valentine’s Day today, Blogworld will likely be filled with love songs.
And that’s okay. If there’s one thing that should be celebrated more often, it’s love. And I can’t think of a more appropriate day to do so than today.
But what is there to say that hasn’t been said already, here and in a thousand thousand other places? Maybe nothing, but let’s go on anyway. I think we can say that love – like the songs we write about it – is really about hope, promises, fear, joy, sorrow, yearning, bliss, despair, isolation, companionship, contentment and finally, peace.
I’ve heard it said – heck, I may have said so myself at one time or another, as many times as I’ve taken a climb on this Matterhorn of a topic – that we don’t really choose who we love. We just love, and we recognize the objects of our love when they enter our lives. The choices we make then are: first, whether to acknowledge the love, and second, how to express it. Those choices determine which of the feelings in the above list – hope, promises and so on – will embrace the two lovers.
Sometimes we choose badly. Most of the time, we hope, we don’t. And when one chooses well, when one acknowledges and expresses love in ways that nurture both souls, then the worst things on that list – isolation and despair – can be minimized, if not entirely avoided. What about fear and sorrow? Well, no person who loves another can avoid them. That’s not cynicism talking, that’s – to quote Barrett Strong and Norman Whitfield by way of Marvin Gaye – the way love is. Fear and sorrow are the B-Side of hope and joy, and souls who love each other fear the inevitable parting and the resulting sorrow that comes even to those who have loved well and long.
I’d almost presume to say that if we do not grieve at a loved one’s leave-taking, we have not loved.
So, am I some kind of expert on love, to be throwing epigrams and lists of words around this morning? No, I’m just another pilgrim, one who has at times loved less than wisely and now – I believe – has learned to love well. These words are a description of my life, not a prescription for others. The only advice I would have for others on this day when we celebrate love is something someone told me long ago: Embrace love, wherever you find it.
Beyond that, all we need is a song. So here, for all lovers everywhere on Valentine’s Day, and especially for my Texas Gal, are Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell from 1968 with “You’re All I Need To Get By.”