Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine’s Day: Hoopla or Hope?

SONNET 116               
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
   If this be error and upon me proved,
   I never writ, nor no man ever loved. 

 ~by William  Shakespeare

Although I am not a romantic person who requires presents, cards or flowers to feel loved (however, chocolate is an exception and quite appreciated) I must say I do like the heart-full celebration of this day. I believe celebrating love is a good thing, albeit Valentine’s Day has been romanticized and commercialized tremendously by retailers everywhere, I would rather hold on to the whole cultural concept instead of doing away with it. And I would like this day to focus on all variations of love—brotherly love, maternal and paternal love, unconditional love, spiritual love, same-sex love, animal love, platonic love, self love—beyond the romantic.  They’re all vital—love is love.

What could be the harm in a day which lifts our spirits during February’s doldrums with splashes of bright red hearts posted around town? I love red and seeing hearts and roses on display is uplifting. Ah, and chocolate the divine elixir can deliciously brighten any moment. Not to forget, the little four-letter word “love” written thousands of times on greeting cards and posters with its inspired meanings and range of feelings. I hope humans forever keep this word and its meaning in their emotional handbag and offer it up often. Love or loving does not guarantee anything—you just do it. One must “bear it out even to the edge of doom” and hold it without any promise. And if love does not work out well in the end one must attempt holding the feeling in reverence but letting go the object. It is one of those tasks we are here to master I am afraid. 

I read a blog post this morning begging the question: what are my favorite books about love? Immediately, two books came to my mind “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Brontë and “Anna Karenina” by Leo Tolstoy. Each book addresses the suffering and pain of love—one story ends beautifully and the other tragically. I hope this does not imply that great love stories only existed in past centuries, but simply that these were just deeply embedded in my memory. Both stories have been made into wonderful films (many times over) and are worth watching. I enjoyed the latest remake (2012) of Anna Karenina with Keira Knightly, but there are earlier versions -- (1935) featuring Greta Garbo and (1948) with Vivien Leigh -- which are excellent. My favorite version of Jane Eyre is performed by Charlotte Gainsbourg (1996) and takes my breath away, but the 1943 version with Joan Fontaine is quite moving. What are your favorite books (or movies) of love?

Finally, a big kiss and hug to Bumble, my husband, who woke with me last night when a migraine headache had me reeling with pain and tried to assist. I hope for everyone on Valentine's Day to have this kind of loving bond.