”Written byNick Trethowan
“Maybe they are just busy…”
754 years ago (give or take) St Valentine was martyred and his body was buried on the Via Flaminia on February 14th.
As the story goes, the patron Saint of love, Terni, epilepsy and beekeepers, healed the sight of a blind girl, proved his faith, wrote a letter and then was subsequently beheaded and possibly eaten by lions so as not to become a symbol for the fledgling Christian religion – which is startlingly similar to how I spent my Valentine’s Day last year.
200 years after his death, Pope Gelasius I established The Feast of Valentine’s Day, also known simply as Saint Valentine’s Day, in AD 496. Since then, throughout the expansive Christian Western society, the hagiography of St Valentine has been adapted and constructed into what is the now controlled economic manifestation of love. A marriage of idealisation and fable, with a dash of ever-growing commercialisation.
Nothing says “I love and appreciate you” than roses sold at a store for 5x it’s normal worth, or a generic box of chocolates bought hurriedly on the way home for work. Surely we can all remember the feeling of abject misery when your crush didn’t send you a rose when you were a kid at school, or conversely the feeling of elation when you DID receive a token of affection.
It is not the primary reason but it is at least a substantial contribution to the current misappropriation of love in our society. While Valentine defied the status quo in pursuit of love and compassion, we wholeheartedly submit to the status quo – buying into, in however big a capacity, the conflated consumer experience. With Hollywood and Box Office movies and series constantly creating a narrative of how love should be interpreted, with social media and advertising confirming it, it becomes very easy to subscribe to that narrative and lose sight of what you truly feel and experience. Of where you are actually at in your life, as opposed to where you think you should be.
Just remember how important it is to not only love others but to love yourself just as much.
Having a Valentine for February 14th is fantastic! If however, you are without a Valentine and experience Feb 14 by yourself, it is a rollercoaster of doubt, anxiety and at times bitter reflections of past relationships. It can be a scary time, as you flip through Instagram and feel the weight of where you are at, made only heavier by perfect encapsulations of love and adoration posted by happy friends and acquaintances. Becoming more and more like the stilted and jaded memes detesting love. It is easy to feel as if the love that is prevalent on Valentine’s Day, is different to the love that IS throughout the rest of the year. It is so easy to feel unsatisfied and alone on this day.
This day and everyday is a celebration of love. In a world where death may come unexpectedly, we should wake up each morning thankful for the love in our lives. Cultivating it as tenderly as a garden. Without it, our existence would be a series of days in a life without colour. No magic, no meaning.
You cannot be truly alone in this life and although you may not see what’s ahead of the next horizon, if you keep daring to move in compassion and kindness, you’ll find your person. Like St Valentine, we have to be prepared to risk it all on love before we can experience it. If it may take our lives than at least it was a life filled with fiery thrill of love and the growth of heartache.