To Thine Own Self Be True
By Deborah Blackwell
Not to minimize this annual Hallmark holiday, but Valentine’s Day can bring on some love/hate. Sir Husband never really liked it, until we reconnected. But I’ve always loved it—chocolate, champagne, and flowers? I’m happy to treat myself. But this day in particular, according to Hallmark, is about being part of a pair. So, I got to thinking about its real meaning, peeked into my diary, and found an old love letter from Sir Husband following our first meeting after many, many years. When I read it to him, he laughed, and said, “I don’t really need Valentine’s Day to remind me how much I love you, I love you every day.”
The letter began like this:
Dear Boston, (at the time, I lived in Boston hence the term of endearment.)
Happy Valentine’s Day. For most of the morning I have been writing this in my head because what do you do on this precarious Hallmark holiday when you are so far apart in miles but so close together in spirit?
I love challenges in life, and this is just another part of the story. Humans like to think intelligence can reign over emotions. I don’t believe that. I don’t think we have as much control as we think when it comes to who we are attracted to, who we love, and the feeling of connection. The paradox could not be more revealed in an ancient Roman holiday called the Feast of Lupercalia on February 14, in the 3rd century A.D. when the ancient Romans sacrificed a dog and a goat and whipped women with the bloody hides to ensure their fertility. After that lively event, each man drew a woman’s name out of a bucket for romance, and ta-da. Instant love and connection.
There are more Valentine’s Day legends dating back to 3 A.D., that include beheadings and other brutalities, but eventually 14th century scribes turned the entire tone of the day from repugnance to romance, Shakespeare carried the torch forward, enter Hallmark in 1913, and here we are today. Romance, flowers, chocolate, and my candor to you. (Just a caution—please do not read this in the company of others because your emotional response, I cannot foresee…)
Since the rest is too romantic to share, I’ll spare you the gush. But after I read it, about love and long lost connection, it occurred to me that maybe it’s the love and connection we have with ourselves that is the most important. Who else is with us our whole lives? Who else knows us that intimately? Who else can see into the depths of our souls, understand our deepest desires, or appreciate our most heartfelt knowing? We can’t draw that name out of a Lupercalia bucket. (Although it might be fun.)
So, I leave you with a poem I wrote about love ~
Love is what makes up and defines our souls,
It guides us through life and to our goals,
Of peace and joy, happiness and delight,
By ourselves or together whatever our plight.
This day represents a union of such,
Maybe not of two people but of something so much,
Much more…a tying of heart and of mind,
Within ourselves, to ourselves let’s be kind.
With compassion and caring and hope and with grace,
We celebrate love in our own heart-space.
A day it needs not, chocolate, flowers, and wine,
By loving ourselves, every day will be fine.
~Happy Valentine’s Day