More and more: Thousands of dollars worth of roses may not bring true Valentine's Day happiness. Photo: Ben Rushton
It’s been about a year since confessed I was in love, on this blog, after long deliberation. After seven years, I still don’t like getting too personal here.
But it’s exactly a year today since that love became real. He proposed. On top of an active volcano. Apropos was duly awarded. And now, in eight weeks, and one day, I’m going to make good on that promise. I’m going to, well, you know, say ‘Yes’.
However, lately, I’ve been thinking – and not for any reason other than thinking is what intelligent life does – to what, exactly, am I agreeing? What does it mean to say you’ll love someone forever?
And what, actually, is this love?
Is it something for everyone? Or will some people do without? Will some people never know, or never care to know, or will they instead know about something else that isn’t love but is just as profound.
Do you need to know love to be happy?
Today is Valentine’s Day. A day derided for its crass and commercial nature. A day with a long history. A day, like any other, and apart from every other. It is also just one day – like a wedding day, for example, is just one day. I wonder about the wisdom of putting so much weight on a single calendar frame. One day to be happy?
One of the biggest problems we face as a society is excess. Excessive eating, shopping, dieting, drinking, complaining – the list goes on, and it’s written under the headline “The pursuit of happiness”. All of this more-and-more is meant to make us happy and happier. Setting aside one day as a special day – a day for the getting of happiness – leads very easily down the path of excess.
For example, Valentine’s Day can mean thousands of dollars worth of roses to make your lover happy, Christmas Day equals truckloads of presents to make loved ones happy, and the wedding day can be a nightmarish opera of too much, too much – too many high-pressure expectations from a whole world of people who want you to be happy.
The pursuit of happiness down the path of excess is a problem because that road leads to regret. And regret is too often mitigated by regressing to excessing, and so the vicious cycle continues.
How much better if we spread the pleasure out? If we look for happiness in the fields around us, rather than down just one rabbit hole. Everything in moderation, so to speak. Lots of little moments of lovely rather than one big day of everything all at once, as many times over as possible.
However, there is something to be said for concentrating your efforts of enjoyment on one day, or one person, or one pastime. Some things really are worth that extra special attention.
They’re worth it, because they represent something other than the usual. That bigger thing, that higher notion, that grand substance which we all know, collectively, as humans, but sometimes fail to see.
Love is one of those extraordinary things. It’s extraordinariness is what makes it so difficult to understand, so impossible to define.
Of course, love is different for everyone. There are many kinds of love: for a child, a mother, a sister, a friend.
And love changes. It is living. It may be one thing at one time, and something else years later. Sometimes, the change is a fading. Other times, it’s an evolution: a dive deeper, or in a different direction.
So, what do I mean when I say, ‘‘I love you’’? What will it mean when I say I will love him forever?
What makes my love so very different to the other loves that it warrants declaring, and celebrating, and binding.
Would the absence of all the fuss somehow diminish that love? And, does the absence of flowers or gifts or cards on Valentine’s Day lessen love also?
When I stand before the love of my life and tell him I will love him forever, I will mean every word.
I cannot imagine life without him.
I never imagined feeling like this.
I know this is love, because it is much more than ordinary.
I know that it will be forever, because time without him is irrelevant.
These are mighty things to say and feel. I won’t pretend I’m not scared. But it’s love that gives me courage. It’s the happiness we share that makes it certain.
Yet I was never sure this was possible. I was not convinced love was possible. That it was for others – but not for me.
I was prepared for that. But now I know, I don’t know how I could have lived a life without it. What if it never happened? What if we never met? What if I never knew what love was?
Is love for everybody?
I hope so. I hope that we can each find love in our lives. I hope that on Valentine’s Day, there is a love for you to celebrate. Though I wonder, as there is up, and there is down; as there is yes, and as there is no; as the world requires two opposing elements for the sake of balance, is it possible that there isn’t enough love to go around?
Here’s to impossibility. Love to you, and share it.
Happy Valentine’s Day.
Katherine Feeney is a journalist with the Nine Network Australia.