With Valentine’s Day looming on the horizon, cynics and hopeless romantics find themselves at odds, as they often do, with one side lamenting the glorification of another commercial faux holiday that preys on human emotion for profits, and the other stuck in a pink-hazed, heart-shaped daze of puppy kisses and Shakespearean expressions of affection.
Needless to say, nobody finds Valentine’s Day more pointless and bothersome than those without a significant other to enjoy it with – or to make fun of it with, depending on your personality.
However, we contend that the point of Valentine’s Day should not be to serve as another opportunity for the well-off to shower gifts on people who hardly need more material goods in their lives, or to remind those who are lonely that they are without somebody, but to serve as a reminder that love truly does exist all around us.
Love takes many forms. Many of us are familiar with a form that has been generated and crafted by Hollywood – a kind of frantic, high-stakes emotional game that pits silly challenges against people who are “just meant to be.” These stories serve as dramatic fodder well outside the realm of normalcy. In real life, love’s challenges are not something that can be caused by a simple misunderstanding over the phone and solved with a surprise bouquet of flowers.
Real love, the kind that lasts for 70 years and even beyond the grave, is rooted in the everyday activities that occur outside of the days on the calendar that tell us we’re supposed to do nice things for our loved ones. True love shows up every day, even when it’s difficult, even when there’s nothing in it for the person going out on a limb, or putting themselves through hardships for that other person.
Real love is seen in people that has nothing to do with a relationship with another person. People truly in love with their work produce amazing things every day – whether it’s a perfectly crafted dinner for a Valentine’s Day date, or a comprehensive study of some element of human behavior that has never been well defined before, such as why we will put our own needs second in order to make the lives of other people better – even if it’s just for a short window of time.
Real love is seen in the hobbies and passion projects of students and their mentors every day, like those who helped students from Pilgrim participate in the FIRST robot competition held at the New England Institute of Technology on Saturday. Through the love of a common thing, these people joined together to share in their time, talents and enthusiasm to produce something extraordinary.
Fittingly enough, the origin of Valentine’s Day as a holiday is as mysterious as the emotion that it seeks to celebrate. What isn’t a mystery, however, is why it has endured through to the modern era – a time when the traditional idea of “love” has never been cloudier and there has never been more opportunity for people to forego monogamous relationships for brief, loveless flings.
Valentine’s Day has stood the test of time not because people like getting heart-shaped boxes of mystery candy, or chalky hearts with scribbles written on them. It hasn’t endured because there’s a secret society of jerks that find it funny when lonely people are reminded that they don’t have a romantic interest in their lives.
It has lasted because love is an emotion worth commemorating. If you’re somebody who feels like they don’t have a reason to celebrate love, that means you have an opportunity to find something – or somebody – that you love. Truly, there is no right or wrong way to find it, but once you do, it becomes clear that it is something worth celebrating.