Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day: What's Love Got To Do, Got To Do With It?

What's love got to do with it?  Plenty.  My cup runneth over, and I'm grateful for the day.

Yeah, I know.  Like almost every other holiday, this one is overly commercialized.  Sales of candy, cards, jewelry and sexy lingerie depend on it.

Over at one of my favorite blogs, The Rap Sheet, J. Kingston Pierce provides links to Valentine's Day history, and over at Killer Covers, link, he gives us some noir book covers with kiss in the title. 

But just as sex is much more than a kiss, and just as love is so much more than sex, the meaning of today for us is much more than randy sex, much more than an excuse to eat chocolate, much more than "sentimental movies and sappy songs."

Valentine's Day is yet another day of gratitude, a reminder that we need to stay mindful and grateful for our love this and every day.  Every day is Thanksgiving, every day is Christmas, every day is New Year's Day, every day is Groundhog Day, every day is Valentine's Day, and it should be.

You need to look beyond the commercialism and materialism of these holidays to see what is real and eternal, to see what is really important in life.

Again this year, I'm posting Kenneth Fearing's funny verse, and I'll discuss the way I see it below:

Love 20 Cents the First Quarter Mile

All right, I may have lied to you and about you,
     and made a few
     pronouncements a bit too sweeping,
     perhaps, and possibly
     forgotten to tag the bases here or there.
And damned your extravagance,
     and maligned your tastes,
     and libeled your relatives,
     and slandered a few of your friends.
     Nevertheless, come back.

Come home.  I will agree to forget the statements
     that you issued
     so copiously to the neighbors and the press.
And you will forget that figment of your imagination,
     the blonde from Detroit;
I will agree that your lady friend who lives above us
     is not crazy, bats, nutty as they come,
     but on the contrary rather bright,
And you will concede that poor old Steinberg
     is neither a drunk, nor a swindler,
     but simply a guy on the eccentric side,
     trying to get along.

Because I forgive you, yet, for everything.
I forgive you for being beautiful and generous and wise.
I forgive you, to put it simply, for being alive,
     and pardon you, in short, for being you.

Because tonight you are in my hair and eyes,
And every street light that our taxi passes shows me
     you again, still you,
And because tonight all other nights are black,
     all other hours are cold and far away,
     and now, this minute, the stars
     are very near and bright.

Come back.  We will have a celebration to end all
We will invite the undertaker who lives beneath us,
     and a couple of boys from the office,
     and some other friends.
And Steinberg, who is off the wagon, and that insane
     woman who lives upstairs, and a few reporters,
     if anything should break.


What's wrong with the way most Americans view love?  Plenty. 

Just as in the title of the verse above, most Americans assign "love" a monetary value.  Materialists themselves in a material culture, they see material value in everything, and they bargain everything, tit for tat.  Their love is conditional and hence temporary.  Their material, superficial possessive love does not last, for they fail to see what is real but not material, they fail to appreciate what cannot be weighed and measured on a scale.

Their lovers are something they possess, trophy lovers, simply material things to collect and to be disposed of when they lose that glamor, that material value.

Lots of popularly acclaimed books professing to be love stories only deal with this form of possessive love, with juvenile ego trips rather than love itself, with the shallow and temporal rather than the eternal and deep.  According to these materialistic authors, finding love is something like figuring out the most glamorous date available to take to the prom.

Such stories are often clever, witty, and sometimes fun to read, but they are also sad because these authors have not yet learned to see beyond the material.  Their most "adult" stories are stuck in a juvenile mode.  They can be verse but never poetry, because materialists do not yet believe in the transcendant where love resides.

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