I remember how V-day used to be a big deal: how as a junior high student in West Hollywood, I prepared cards for all my classmates in St. Ambrose parochial school (it was a small school); how friends exchanged store-bought candy shaped in pastel-colored hearts with little "love" messages; how in Student Council we used to turn the day into a fundraising campaign, selling flower-grams, which we then delivered during class time, just so everyone knew when someone received a special greeting. I shudder to think of it now, how as children we were already indoctrinated into the consumer-driven holiday, which celebrates, of all things, love--which is totally free.
As a young adult, I believed it was a time to be with someone special. And when I was in a relationship, I celebrated it by getting dressed up and going out on a date. And when I was not, I tried to downplay the whole thing. I'd meet up with fellow single girl-friends, watch silly movies at home-- where we were safe from all the Valentine hoo-hah--while eating copious amounts of self-bought chocolates.
This year feels strange because, contrary to a history of cupidity for/avoidance of the event, it means so little to me right now. I don't feel the need to observe it in any conventional way. I don't feel the need to ignore it, either. (I did go and purchase two pieces of vegan chocolate cake at a friend's bake sale today, which I shared with my beloved. A rare treat in Mysore, India! But other than that no real fanfare.)
Up until recently, Valentine's Day has been day for me to substantiate either the existence of love in my life or the absence of it. And what feels different for me today is that I don't need any one event to prove to myself that there is love in my life. Nor do I need one person's love demonstrated in flowers, chocolate or gifts to show me that I am loved.
Recently, I've been coming more and more to this idea of really embracing love in the every day.
Today has been no different. It was love to snooze until 2:45am and still get to the yoga mat by 4:30 (Ok, this is not exactly a personal preference but a beautiful part of the practice here in Mysore, and I love it when I'm here). It was love to prepare myself a healthy bowl of fruit salad with curd and oats this morning. It was love to return to the shala two hours later and assist my teacher and help fellow practitioners feel stable in their yoga postures. It was love to write a somewhat difficult email response to a family member who feels like I've not been particularly there for her. It was love to have a simple tiffin meal with my special someone and then to sit in the same room while writing this blog article. Big or small, easy or difficult, it's all love.
And by recognizing that all that life brings is an expression of love I am reminded that everyday is a day of love--I guess that awareness is what makes this Valentine's day special.