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A day for the pursuit of love and happiness

Date
More and more: Thousands of dollars worth of roses may not bring true Valentine's Day happiness.

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.

Katherine.f.feeney@gmail.com

Twitter: @katherinefeeney

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27 comments

  • What is love?

    In my book, love is a verb. It something one does, not a thing (noun). Just as hate is not a thing but what one may do. Love does not try to control another, put down another, lie to another or even try to change another. I have said this before on this blog and I will stand by it: I do not love because I want something from someone, I love because I want to give and give the best and most vulnerable part of myself.
    I have loved others who did not deserve my love and I may have even been loved by others' and I did not see it.
    I love my children, my family and I have loved my pets. I have loved partners but the most important person to receive my love (myself) I have been hardest on.
    Is love for everyone? IMHO Yes. One must love oneself otherwise they may look to fill the void with someone else's love and that is dangerous.
    I wish everyone a happy Valentines Day.

    Commenter
    Dan
    Location
    Brisbane
    Date and time
    February 14, 2014, 12:22AM
    • @Dan- "I love because I want to give..." I want to give and serve as my heart swells with so much love and grace. I appreciate your words of wisdom, Dan.

      Commenter
      All Heart
      Date and time
      February 14, 2014, 11:17AM
  • CK,
    This is a little off topic! But I wanted to get something out there
    I have read a lot of my friends FB posts complaining about Valentine’s day and all that it stands for. The single people hate it and the majority of my married friends have taken a stand against it stating 'they do not need to be dictated a day to let their partner know they love them'. I think this is a bit of a cop out and I put the following to one of them who made a huge stand 'I like you and I like to let you know, i am happy you are on this planet with me, and that you exist and I sometimes randomly like to tell you this or buy you the occasional gift randomly. This doesn't mean that I refuse to celebrate your birthday, because I don’t want to be dictated the day in which I can do this!’
    I like to spoil my wife on Valentine’s day as well as other random days through the year. I have always liked Valentine’s day even when single. It’s nice to see love out there.
    So it is my personal opinion that taking a stand against Valentines and using the above excuse is extremely unromantic! You are effectively saying to your partner that because I choose to make a stand, I will not tell you I love you on this day and spoil you. Therefore i am choosing my stand over you!
    Am I wrong here?

    Commenter
    THE FLASH
    Location
    Now O/S
    Date and time
    February 14, 2014, 2:10AM
    • @ THE FLASH,
      The point of the anti “valentines day” brigade is that you should display your affection towards your loved one on a continuous basis and should not need a special reminding day on which to do it.
      I’m not anti myself but equally don’t make a big deal about it either.

      Commenter
      Victorious Painter
      Date and time
      February 14, 2014, 11:24AM
    • As a single person, I say to the couples around me enjoy Valentines Day for all its worth. Because one day that partner might not be there and you will miss that romance with your loved one. A bit of "silly romance" goes a long way.

      Commenter
      Adina
      Date and time
      February 14, 2014, 1:08PM
    • @VP isn't that the oxymoron... you choose not to on one day so you can the rest? I think Adina makes a great point.. enjoy them everyday including Valentines!!!
      Not the best thing to make a stand on

      Commenter
      the flash
      Location
      deep dark jungle
      Date and time
      February 14, 2014, 1:56PM
  • Love is individual and different for everyone. I do find our preoccupation with "Love" pretty funny. Not so long ago "Love" was not even discussed much in relation to marriage. The idea of a love match was either laughable or irresponsible: marriage was to create ties, expand wealth, and for the procreation of children to inherit and increase that wealth. Or at least to help keep the farm solvent. It's only the more modern generations who spend so much time navel-gazing and mooning after our "perfect mate" and making lists and getting bent out of shape over every little thing.

    That said, my partner and I celebrate Valentine's Day as a good time to have a nice dinner and take a moment to reaffirm that we're still each others' favorite person. No gifts, no flowers, and we take turns paying for dinner. This year is his turn. I'll drive. It works for us.

    Commenter
    TK
    Date and time
    February 14, 2014, 6:14AM
    • @TK-I buy my husband chocolate, because he absolutely loves it! He takes me out to dinner. I drive home. It's just that simple.

      Commenter
      All Heart
      Date and time
      February 14, 2014, 11:21AM
  • To those who chase happiness, expect to fail.
    Happiness comes from within oneself, expecting “things” or other people to fulfill that void is a downhill slippery slope which tends to gather momentum and crash.
    To share life with another who is equally happy with themselves, where love, passion, desire and mutual respect is present is what heaven on earth.

    Commenter
    Victorious Painter
    Date and time
    February 14, 2014, 7:59AM
    • @Victorious Painter-"...expecting 'things' or other people to fill that void is a downhill slippery slope which tends to gather momentum and crash." This is true if you put your hope and faith in the wrong things and the wrong people. When you find true love and happiness within yourself and others that downhill slope can provide the ride of your life! Hoping you two are doing great and looking forward to that holiday together. Always in my prayers...

      Commenter
      All Heart
      Date and time
      February 14, 2014, 11:31AM

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