On a normal day, I see a world filled with stress, animosity, and anger. Drivers take over your lane on the highway at the risk of losing lives – not to mention honk and “finger” each other. I see people rushing about holding a paper cup of coffee. I see motorcycles speed by a homeless man, nearly severing his extended arm for begging. I see mothers dragging a child to the school bus for fear of missing it. I see teachers overreacting to bad homework, bosses irritated with a tardy employee, and even the clerk at Trader Joe’s exasperated when you forget to weigh the dried fruits. Everyone seems to be receiving the infamous last straw. That’s life. That’s the world in which we live.
Then comes Valentine’s Day and the whole world turns pink! Everywhere you look there are red roses, pink cookies, and heart candies. The little girl, who feared her teacher, now approaches her with a caramel apple that has pink sprinkles. The thrifty husband pays a few extra bucks for a dozen of hard-to-find red roses, and the boss puts a small box of chocolate on each employee’s desk. There are images of the chubby, arrow-shooting cupid everywhere. For reasons beyond my comprehension, diamonds suddenly become popular and Hallmark has a field day. The transformation is unbelievable, yet it happens year after year.
When I was a student in England, we approached Valentine’s Day differently. You would play tricks on your friends – especially when romantically involved – by sending them a card. This card would have a brief message. “Be my Valentine!” You’d find ways of mailing the card from other parts of the world and watching their reactions. “It’s from Zimbabwe! Who do I know there?” Couples gave each other flowers, but that was it. I don’t remember writing Valentine’s cards in school, or wanting my teachers and colleagues and neighbors to be my Valentines.
So to me, the day is not too different from other days. When it comes to love, I believe my friends and family hear enough from me throughout the year. They receive my flowers, baked goods, and messages of adoration on a daily basis. My philosophy about love is that if I have such a feeling, it is not mine. Love belongs to the recipient and that’s why we have no right to lock such emotions inside. That may be why there isn’t anyone I truly love who is not aware of the fact.
Yes, I enjoy Valentine’s Day because on that one day, I blend in. To me, this seems to be the day when people allow themselves to express love freely. It’s as though all of a sudden they remember that besides eyes that see evil, hands that have to work hard, and feet that need to run, they also have a tender heart to love with. For once, they listen to that gentle pump-pump within their chests and let those around them hear it, too.
So if you celebrate Valentine’s Day, I hope it’s a good one. Enjoy your flowers, your candies and your candlelight dinner. As for me, I will stick to my love of family and friends 365 days a year. And in case you see someone on February 14, walking about with a big grin, that most probably would be me!