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A Celebration to be Shared

There are many who call Valentine’s Day a Hallmark holiday, an excuse to improve the bottom lines of the chocolate, greeting card and flower industries. It is one of the busiest days of the year for restaurants, and a bonanza for retailers that sell jewelry and lingerie. To the cynical, Valentine’s Day is more about the love of money than anything else.

While I concede that the commercialization of the holiday has meant that there’s a certain pressure to spend money, I can’t agree that the day is about making profits than making love. More men propose marriage to their girlfriends on Valentine’s Day than any other day of the year. There are more kisses, more hugs and more secret smiles exchanged than any other day. For my non-financial bottom line, that tips the balances quite a bit.

We are quite stingy with our love in many ways. We are told from birth that we give love only to our families and maybe a few selected friends. We allow only limited access to our hearts – very often we deny it even to ourselves.

I personally think that’s an unhealthy thing. Love is a gift meant to be shared, and the more that it is shared, the greater it becomes. Love is an exponential emotion; when you give it, it grows at a staggering clip. Burt Bacharach had the right idea when he penned “What the world needs now is love” and that is still true today. Our world is filled with selfishness, greed and frustration. Kindness and forgiveness are in short supply but there’s plenty of rage to go around. Anger, like love, is also and exponential emotion.

I’m not suggesting we all daub ourselves with patchouli oil and run out to the nearest public park and make love to the first person we see. Free love can be tragically expensive in a world of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases that can have devastating effects on our lives. However, I think that we should allow ourselves to love more broadly. Give people the benefit of your heart and you will receive the benefit of theirs.

Valentine’s Day can be a difficult holiday for many who are alone. There are those who are acutely reminded of that fact on a day that celebrates romance. There are others whose relationships aren’t what they would like them to be who spend the day wondering if they are with the right person, or sure that they’re not. Some of them feel trapped by their circumstances, while others simply are too terrified to be alone. The loneliest place to be in the world is in a bad relationship; it’s like buying the car you always wanted only to discover that the brakes don’t work. You sit at your window, your useless vehicle parked in your driveway while others whiz by in their working models.

Love is something we all crave. We need it as surely as we need oxygen. The touch of a human hand can make us feel better, even the touch of a stranger’s hand. In many ways, we spend our lives chasing it and sometimes fruitlessly. Often we look for love by pursuing sex.

Sex is wonderful and terrible at the same time. It is the most pleasurable thing we can do and yet the consequences for doing it can be severe. We have a tendency to use sex as a love substitute, knowingly or not. Making love is not the same thing as love, but it can be a close second when you don’t have that life partner that we all want and need so desperately. Still, sex is wonderful; we spend a lot of our time thinking about it and talking about it. Because of our physical urges, we are forced to confront our needs; we ignore them at our peril. If we can’t find satisfaction in our relationship physically, we may turn outside the relationship to get that relief, even though every other aspect of that relationship may be fine.

The secret to good sex is simply a willingness to do whatever it takes to satisfy your partner. Sometimes that may mean going outside your comfort zone, or accepting that the things that turn them on may be different than the things that turn you on. A balance needs to be struck as in anything else so that both partners get what they want. Ladies that may mean doing things that are distasteful to you and for you gentlemen that may mean actually listening to your partner and making sure she gets what she needs even after you’ve gotten what you do. It means submitting to your playful side and being creative; it means exploring, trying new things and being adventurous. Good sex can cure a lot of what ails you.

Sex isn’t the whole enchilada, however – it’s just the tortilla that wraps around the stuffing. Most of us order our enchiladas based on the stuffing and it is the stuffing that ultimately gives us the most satisfaction. We simply can’t make love to everybody – it’s not realistic. We can, however, hug everybody. We can kiss everybody. We can tell them that we care, that we love them and that they aren’t alone so long as we’re around. Valentine’s Day shouldn’t be a day just for your lover; it should be a day that celebrates love itself.

By all means, get the dinner reservations, order the flowers and eat the chocolates. Ladies, put on your lingerie and gentlemen go out and buy the jewelry that expresses how we feel in ways that words can’t. Celebrate the love that you feel for the love of your life – just don’t stop the celebration there. Make sure that you tell everyone you love how you feel, even the people who don’t know it yet. Call a friend and catch up, or hug a stranger.

Love is a commodity more precious than oil, and even more necessary to our ability to survive. It’s a commodity that is rare in that it increases the more you use it, and the more you use it the more precious it becomes. Let’s use this Valentine’s Day as an excuse to share that commodity with as many people we can, and when the day is over, keep sharing it. Treat every day like Valentine’s Day and you may find that when all is said in done, you’ve had a wonderful life.


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