For years I thought Valentine’s day, like any other conventional celebration, was absolutely ridiculous. What do you mean we give each other chocolates and candy with loving notes? What’s the point? And the stress of finding gifts for our partner? Pffff. Who has time for that? Of course, I was the girl who demanded not to have any gifts, stating I would be insulted if flowers ended up in my locker. I was full of disdain because nobody had genuinely gifted me something sweet on Valentine’s day, as the system conditions us to expect. So I metaphorically told myself “alright then, I don’t want to have any gifts. I refuse to have gifts. Gifts are stupid, anyways”. Such an angsty teenager I was.
After some time I started noticing how the advertisements and the grocery store sales really encouraged people to buy, buy, buy. The advertisements were especially blatant to me, seemingly targetting human insecurities (we all want to be loved and accepted) and playing on our emotions in order to get us to buy more of their products and to gift them to our partner. It was also clear to me how these ads could make some partnerless people feel worthless (to a certain degree) because they don’t have anything ‘special’ to do on Valentine’s day. They don’t have a ‘special’ gift for a special ‘Valentine’.
I was so incredulous. How could company CEOs, or people in charge of those ads, even sleep at night knowing they made so many people in the world feel like sh*t because they’re not a perfect mirror of the realities portrayed on TV, in magazines or on social media? At the same time, I started reflecting on the environmental impact of the increased consumption of goods… All the plastic wrapping that comes from fossil fuels and that gets dumped in the garbage. All the cacao in the chocolate – who grew it? Kids in rural areas submitted to these big producers to support their families? Even further: how is the cacao even grown? In rows and rows and rows and rows of tree pumped with chemical fertilizers and pesticides that get leached in local people’s water systems? The perfume. That’s a totally different thing. Think about the number of glass bottles. The energy needed to power the machines that distil the scents and aromas into different chemical compounds that we spray on ourselves in order to alter our natural smell? So many things seemed wrong to me.
After overcoming the denial, anger and sadness that came from thinking about all of this, I started reflecting about how I could turn Valentine’s day into something more positive. I found that regardless of the consumerism, Valentine’s day – at its core – seemed to be about love more than anything else. I focused on embodying Love. On letting it seep into my thoughts and actions. On celebrating the beauty of Love and what the wonderful things it brings to this world. Love is so important. It can transform communities. It can revolutionize people’s lives.
Love is everywhere. In the sun kissing the plant leaves, unconditionally giving. In the flowering of the trees, an abundance of beauty. Love is about selfless giving, without any intentions of receiving anything in return. Love is about enabling people to be themselves by holding space for them. Love is about freedom. True freedom.
Here is my suggestion. On this Valentine’s day, forget the consumerism, forget the stressful scrambling to get the best gifts, forget that you may not have anyone to go out for a fancy dinner with. Forget it. Focus on Love. Become Love.