With Valentine’s Day looming over the horizon, I thought I’d give my two cents on the subject. In short, I sort of hate Valentine’s Day. It’s not because of the usual reasons, I guess. I have a wonderful wife, whom I adore. Despite my best attempts to be otherwise, I am a hopeless romantic. I even enjoy the occasional
indulgence of whimsical love notes and cards. I don’t even really mind the commercial aspect of it, although I flat-out reject the idea that I should spend any money just because it’s Valentine’s Day. It’s the ‘Day’ part that I loathe.
It’s already difficult to be a hopeful, positive person in this world. I don’t want to be negative and cynical all the time. For one thing, it’s just too easy. For another, it’s a bad thing to imprint on my friends and family. It is far too easy to hate on Valentine’s Day, just because it is a cynical, consumerist, superficial thing. It’s a bit harder to look at why we should reject it and model good ways to interact with and about “love.”
It’s the age of ‘Jersey Shore’, ‘The Kardashians’ and the 12-hour news cycle. My friends and I joke about kids right out of high school getting into “starter marriages” because – damn it – that’s what they are. Real commitment is difficult to hold on to. Real, mature and lasting relationships require communication and (sometimes) hard work. Flowers, cards, chocolate and diamond rings have all the depth of a dixie cup and it reflects the facile, imitation-flavor of love that you can buy on your way home from work.
I’ve had my heart broken and as much as I’d like to forget it, I’ve broken some too. Valentine’s Day seems like a warped reflection of all that pain and misery. Yes, there are plenty of people who enjoy it. And who am I to say that their experience is in any way not valid? I say, if you want to wear rose-colored glasses for a day and spend a ton of money on your sweetie, that’s fine. That’s your business. I object to the ‘Day’ part of it, more than anything.
It’s funny. I started this as a way to segue into a plug for our new book, Orbital Hearts. It is out right now, on Amazon (for the low price of $3.99!). It’s an anthology of ten stories, by an international coterie of authors. And it’s all about ‘doomed romance’ and ‘star-crossed lovers’ – ya know, good stuff. It’s not,
strictly speaking, an anti-Valentine’s Day book, but it speaks to a lot of what I’m trying to get at here. In fact, the contributors to Orbital Hearts manage to stay within the bounds of the theme, while being more eloquent and genuinely romantic than I could hope to be.
Love – in the classic, ‘eternal love’ sort of sense – is a fleeting and ephemeral thing. It’s here and then, sometimes, it’s gone. Our hearts rule over us, make us do things we would never otherwise choose. This is nothing to triffle with, nothing to take lightly, or dismiss, or cheapen with a ‘Day.’ In my experience, love – true love – is something to respect, maybe even stand in fear or awe of. Do you love someone? Then do something about it. But don’t let some sales pitch dictate when and how.
Patrick Jennings-Mapp is a co-founder of and an editor for Escape Collective Publishing. When he’s not working, he enjoys long walks on the beach, listening to Coltrane, and surrealist art.